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Children’s Museum opens its doors to low-income families

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Boston is fortunate to have so many cultural institutions that offer enrichment for children. But steep admissions prices — which can easily soar to $50 or more for a family outing — render many museums and zoos out of reach for local families. So praise is due to the Boston Children’s Museum, which has launched a program offering $2 admission to visitors who show an electronic welfare-benefits card.

The initiative stems from research that the museum conducted in low-income communities, where residents explained that some existing discount programs, such as lowered prices during off-hours, didn’t help parents who work long hours or return home to dangerous neighborhoods. Even half-price admissions were, in many cases, unaffordable.

With this experiment, the Children’s Museum joins other institutions that are experimenting with new ways to help low-income families, such as the new Panera Cares café in Government Center that is asking customers to pay what they can. In this case, the generosity comes from the museum itself; the welfare-benefits cards won’t be charged, and families will pay in cash. The museum understands the larger social value of expanded opportunities: Children who get excited about science, art, and culture will grow up to make contributions of their own. If other museums follow suit, the whole community will be richer for it.

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