The Orange County Regional History Center is one of the museums participating in Bank of America’s Museums on Us free admission program. (Photo by Dave Raith).
ORLANDO – It’s likely to sound like a novel concept to some people: get a bank card, then visit a museum — for free.
This weekend, Bank of America has a special offer for its cardholders: free admission to a number of museums and other cultural institutions in the Orlando and Tampa area.
It happens on Saturday, Aug. 4 and Sunday, Aug. 5 – as well as the first full weekend of each month – at local museums that are participating in this program. In Orlando, it includes the Orlando Museum of Art and the Orange County Regional History Center, and the Mennello Museum of American Art.
To the west, the bank’s card holding customers can visit the Tampa Museum of Art and, in St. Petersburg, the Florida Holocaust Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts.
In a news release outlining the offer, Bank of America noted that it has “strong long-term relationships with an array of institutions nationwide, including museums, science centers, botanical gardens and aquariums.”
That relationship led to the creation of a program called Museums on Us, designed to “promote these institutions and provide a free cultural benefit to Bank of America and Merrill Lynch cardholders,” the bank noted
“It’s the 15th year of offering this program,” said Diane Wagner, spokesperson for Bank of America. “The bank in and of itself has had a deep and longstanding tradition of supporting the arts and culture.”
In addition to offering Museums on Us, “We have an extensive arts collection that we’ve inherited through our other institutions, and we have arts and community programs where we will actually take curated exhibitions and have the show on display at the museums. We’ve had such great relationships with some of these museum partners.”
Giving its banking customers an opportunity to visit those popular museums, without having to pay the admission fee, also brings more people to these institutions at a time when a weak economy may be impacting their regular ticket sales, Wagner added.
“This is another way for them to boost up their numbers and for people to be able to come through their doors and have a unique cultural experience,” she said.
To take advantage of this special perk, customers of these two financial institutions need to present a photo ID and a valid Bank of America/Merrill Lynch credit or debit card when they show up at one of the museums for a visit.
Each cardholder can take advantage of one free general admission at a participating institution, although the offer isn’t valid at special fund-raising events at the museums, or special exhibitions.
Although residents in the Orlando and Tampa area can take advantage of this program, Museums on Us also works if a local residents is traveling around the state.
For example, they can visit the Museum of Science and History or the Museum of Contemporary Art in Jacksonville, or by heading south, to the Miami Art Museum, the Miami Children’s Museum, the Miami Science Museum, or the Museum of Contemporary Art.
Anyone traveling outside of the state can take advantage of it as well, since this is a national program.
“The beauty of the program is because there are more than 150 institutions participating, if you plan on visiting any relatives across the franchise, you can take advantage of it,” Wagner said. “You have so many neighboring states, too, like Georgia and southeastern Tennessee, that are participating in it.”
Museums on Us was created to give bank cardholders free admission to some of the nation’s best known cultural venues nationwide. Bank of America cardholders in other parts of the country have the opportunity this upcoming weekend to use Museums on Us to get free admission to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix, the Chabot Space & Science Center in San Francisco, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Seattle Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, and the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
In fact, there are cultural institutions in 91 cities across the country that will be opening their doors to bank cardholders on the first full weekend of each month. The next upcoming weekends include Sept. 1-2 and Oct. 6-7.
The options for what to visit, Wagner said, are pretty diverse.
“You might have a space and science center, or an actual art museum, and sometimes we’ve had zoos that participated as well,” Wagner said. “In this time of a down economy, people are looking to do things that are less expensive, and this is a way to do that.”
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