Governor Lamont Proposes Program Allowing Children to Access Connecticut Museums for Free This Summer

Governor Ned Lamont today announced that he is proposing to launch an initiative that will allow all children in Connecticut to visit museums throughout the state free of charge during the upcoming summer months.

The initiative was included as part of the proposal the governor presented earlier this week to the Connecticut General Assembly to allocate the federal COVID-19 recovery funding Connecticut is receiving from the American Rescue Plan Act. This summer museum portion of the proposal is part of Governor Lamont’s larger plan to provide students and families with engaging summer enrichment and learning experiences in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under the initiative, all Connecticut children 18 and under plus one accompanying adult can visit any of the state’s participating museums free of charge from July 1 to September 6. It will be supported by a $15 million investment from the state’s federal recovery funds to the participating museums.

So far, Mystic Aquarium, Mystic Seaport Museum, Beardsley Zoo, Connecticut Science Center, and the Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk have all expressed interest in participating. However, in the coming weeks all museums in the state will be invited to participate. The program requires authorization from the state legislature.

“Connecticut has some of the best museums in the region, and they were significantly impacted by the pandemic,” Governor Lamont said. “Investing these recovery dollars into our museums just makes sense. Not only will it help support the continued operation of these museums, but it also provides an opportunity for children who’ve lost out on classroom experience to spend some time this summer exploring new educational experiences. This is a win-win and I think it will be a very popular option for families across Connecticut this summer.”

The program will be administered by the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development’s Office of the Arts in partnership with Connecticut Humanities. Connecticut museums that would incur significant loss in visitor revenue by participating in the program will be eligible for funding. Applications and funding guidelines will be available by May 15 on the websites of both the Connecticut Office of the Arts and Connecticut Humanities. Final distribution of awards is contingent on continued discussion with legislative partners.

“This program will provide children with no-cost access to many of Connecticut’s diverse array of museums that provide all types of engaging learning experiences,” Liz Shapiro, Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums at the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, said. “I want Connecticut kids and their parents to know that our museums are ready to welcome you back. There is so much to learn, to explore and to talk about that connects residents to the culture and heritage of our state and prepares them for experiences in the wider world. Create memories this summer, explore as a team, and reignite those sparks of imagination and creativity that make Connecticut kids the best and the brightest. Let’s remember how much fun it is to learn together.”

“Mystic Aquarium is excited to partner with the State of Connecticut for this important initiative,” Dr. Stephen M. Coan, president and CEO of Sea Research Foundation Inc., the nonprofit that operates Mystic Aquarium, said. “By participating in this program, we hope to provide more children access to a fun and educational destination and instill a love of the ocean that motivates young audiences to make a difference in our world.”

“Keeping equity and access at front of mind, this summer is a time to provide students at every level of PK-12 fun, engaging, and hands-on learning experiences,” Connecticut Education Acting Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker said. “These high quality, community-based, and financially accessible summer enrichment experiences can begin to heal the impact the pandemic has had on our students’ academic and social-emotional well-being while ensuring that learning is happening every day, everywhere.”

Additional information on the program, including participating museums, will be announced in the coming weeks.

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