Memorial Day 2017: These Georgia museums are free for military families all summer

Folk pottery and airplane flight.  Military history and contemporary art.

A “RiverQuarium” down in South Georgia. An Appalachian heritage center up in the North Georgia mountains.

Those are just a few of the nearly three dozen museums -- 10 of them in Atlanta alone -- that will offer free admission to active duty military members and their families all summer.

Here are the participating Atlanta-area museums: You can also find the complete list at  In Atlanta: Atlanta History Center, David J. Sencer CDC Museum, Delta Flight Museum, High Museum of Art, Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, Museum of Design Atlanta, Oglethorpe University Museum of Art, Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking, the Museum of Contemporary Art of Georgia, Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum. Also: Southeastern Quilt Museum (Carrollton), Southeastern Railway Museum (Duluth), Chattahoochee Nature Center (Roswell).

And here you thought Memorial Day just marked the start of swimming pool season.

Think again, soldier (or sailor, Marine, Coast Guardsman . . . you get the drift). The National Endowment for the Arts' Blue Star Museums program throws open the doors to more than 2,000 museums around the country from Memorial Day through Labor Day (the program officially starts on Monday, May 29, but an NEA spokesman say most of the participating museums have included the entire Memorial Day weekend in their launch "day" period).

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A collaboration among the NEA, the Department of Defense, Blue Star Families and the participating museums, the free admission offer extends to all active duty military personnel, including National Guard and Reserve, and up to five family members (specific information on who qualifies can be found at

Credit: Contributed by the Chattahoochee Nature Center

Credit: Contributed by the Chattahoochee Nature Center

From science and music museums to nature centers and national monuments and, well, places that practically scream “only in America” (the International Bowling Museum and Hall of Fame in Texas, the International Diving Museum in Florida), there’s pretty much something to interest everyone (the NEA expects more institutions to keep signing on during the summer).

Here in Georgia, the 35 participating museums include some of the biggest and most established names on the cultural scene, like The High and the Atlanta History Center.  As well as some stops more geared to special interests or specific regions, such as the Delta Flight Museum, the National Infantry Museum (Columbus), Flint RiverQuarium (Albany), railway and quilting museums, Flannery O’Connor’s farm and a number of historic houses around the state.

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This is the eighth year of the Blue Stars Museum program, with more than 900,000 military members and their families having taken advantage of free admission last summer. The NEA was targeted for elimination in the federal budget plan that President Donald Trump submitted to Congress in March. However, the $1 trillion spending bill that Congress passed at the beginning of May to fund the government through Sept. 30  restored the original funding -- plus an additional $2 million apiece -- for the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities, which the president had also proposed eliminating.

For a complete list of participating museums, visit