Mayor London N. Breed today celebrated the success of the first summer of the San Francisco Museums for All program, which provides free admission to more than 15 museums and cultural institutions for residents who receive public benefits, including Medi-Cal and CalFresh. During the summer, many participating museums noticed an increased number of visitors using the Museums for All program. The program ends on Monday, September 2, and Mayor Breed encouraged eligible San Franciscans to visit participating museums and cultural institutions over Labor Day weekend.
“Our City’s museums and cultural institutions are wonderful resources and should be accessible to everyone, regardless of income,” said Mayor Breed. “We want everyone to get out there this weekend and use the Museums for All program to visit one of the participating museums.”
The program, which began on June 1 and will run through September 2, 2019, builds on Mayor Breed’s commitment to provide equitable access to the City’s resources and institutions. San Francisco residents who currently receive Medi-Cal or CalFresh benefits from the Human Services Agency (HSA) can receive free admission at participating museums for up to four individuals when they present their Electronic Benefits Transfer or Medi-Cal card and proof of San Francisco residency. Nearly one in four San Franciscans receive public benefits from HSA.
“When a diversity of people visit a museum, bringing their unique perspectives and experiences, it enriches the life of the museum and of the community as a whole,” said Trent Rhorer, Executive Director of HSA. “The staff of the city’s cultural institutions know this, and I’m thrilled to be able to work with them to broaden their reach.”
Admission fees at many institutions can range from $20 to $150 for a family of four to visit, creating a barrier for many people to access the cultural and educational benefits that these institutions offer. To address this challenge, Mayor Breed worked with City departments, nonprofit arts organizations, and leaders of participating local museums and cultural centers to ensure free or discounted summer admission for more than 210,000 San Francisco residents that are eligible to participate in the program.
Demand for the program was high amongst eligible San Franciscans. Almost all of the participating museums reported an increase in attendance and in the first weeks after the program was announced, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Japanese Tea Garden, and the de Young Museum each reported several hundred new visitors as a result of the program. The Children’s Creativity Museum, which was the first museum to participate in the program, also identified a significant increase in attendance.
“I am grateful to all of the organizations who participated, making their programs more welcoming, available, and accessible,” said Director of Grants for the Arts Matthew Goudeau. “We live in a vibrant community with countless cultural assets, and San Franciscans of all backgrounds should have the opportunity to visit them.”
The program was created in collaboration with Treasurer José Cisneros’s Financial Justice Project, which works to ensure that lower-income residents receive discounts on fines and fees that place a disproportionate burden on low-income families, and to streamline eligibility processes for these discounts.
“Museums are for all of us,” said Treasurer José Cisneros. “San Francisco has world-class museums and cultural institutions, but too many San Franciscans are priced out. This program proves that when we remove the cost barrier, more San Franciscans will participate in the cultural life our city. I’m proud of our City for pulling together to make this happen.”
“Research tells us that exposure to the arts increases health and educational outcomes for all people,” says San Francisco Arts Commission Director of Cultural Affairs Tom DeCaigny. “We hope this program will have a lasting positive effect on the community and foster more participation in the arts across the City.”
"I love museums and as a disabled resident of San Francisco, the admission fees can really add up and pose a financial barrier," said Alice Wong, Founder and Director of the Disiability Visibility Project. "I got to visit SFMOMA and the California Academy of Sciences with the Museums for All program and had a fantastic time. The best part is that I could bring up to 3 other guests which means a lot to me because I could share these experiences with my friends and family. Community participation means being able to access cultural institutions and this program helps people do just that."
"The Children's Creativity Museum is thrilled to be part of the City's social inclusion effort," said Pat Schultz Kilduff, Director of External Affairs at the Children's Creativity Musuem. "We welcome visitors with a membership card, a credit card or an EBT card. All are treated equally at the door. We see all our visitors using their imaginations and sharing experiences."
The participating museums and cultural institutions are:
- Asian Art Museum
- Botanical Garden
- California Academy of Sciences
- Cartoon Art Museum
- Children's Creativity Museum
- Conservatory of Flowers
- Contemporary Jewish Museum
- de Young Museum
- Japanese Tea Garden
- Legion of Honor
- Museum of the African Diaspora
- Museum of Craft and Design
- San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
- Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
San Francisco’s program builds on the national Museums for All initiative, which works with museums across the country to offer free or discounted admission fees to individuals and families that receive public benefits.
To participate, eligible families need to bring the following to participating museums:
- An Electronic Benefits Transfer or Medi-Cal card.
- Proof of San Francisco residency such as a driver’s license, student or college ID, or library card.