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Are you looking for something fun and educational to do with your family this summer in Washington State that doesn’t break the bank? Military Spouse Olivia Harrell recommends the Blue Star Museum Program, “which is one of my favorite programs to take advantage of as an active duty military family. Every summer it’s a struggle to keep the kids occupied and off their ipads all day, so this is the perfect educational and fun option for them!” Museums are great for an indoor activity on a rainy day, and offer your kids a variety of ways to learn and play, “and they allow our family to connect with others after frequent moves, deployments and what sometimes feels like isolation.”

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What is the Blue Star Museums Program?

The Blue Star Museums Program is a program that runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day each year and offers FREE and discounted admission for active duty members and their families to thousands of museums nationwide. Most admissions are completely free for the active duty member and family members but a select few offer just discounted admission. This program also includes some aquariums, zoos, and science centers.  On Blue Star Museum’s website you can also find a Parent Guide, summer activity sheets, and more information on the program. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Harrell suggests calling each museum before visiting to “double check any restrictions, find out mask mandates and if you need an appointment.”

The program is based on their groundbreaking research, in an effort to raise the nation’s awareness of the unique challenges of military family life. With the help of neighbors across the country, Blue Star Families is overcoming the isolation and alienation of frequent moves, deployments, and reduced support from the government. Our innovative programs are solving specific challenges for military families, including fighting economic insecurity with resources that foster spouse career development, creating family strength with rich family programming, and providing critical peer support for caregivers, whose numbers are only increasing. With more than 150,000 members in their network, including in chapters and communities all over the world, Blue Star Families touches more than 1.5 million military family members every year.

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What Museums are available in Washington State?

Washington State is home to six military instillations, all with Museums on location or nearby. Harrell says that one of her favorites was the Pacific Bonsai Museum, near JBLM, “I’ve always been fascinated by Bonsai Trees and the Pacific Bonsai Museum is a fantastic place to see all different kinds and learn some history of how they started. It only takes 20 minutes to walk through, so you won’t have to worry about your kiddos getting bored.”

Washington is home to the following military bases:

Below is a list of museums participating in the program closest to Joint Base Lewis-McCord (JBLM), you can click on each title to visit the Museum’s website for hours and more info:

DuPont History Museum

Lakewold Gardens

9th & 10th Horse Cavalry Buffalo Soldier Museum

Tacoma Historical Society
Tacoma Art Museum
Washington State Historical Society

Federal Way:
Pacific Bonsai Museum
Connections Museum Seattle
Georgetown Steam Plant
Burke Museum

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Military Spouse Olivia Harrell examines a piece of art. Photo courtesy of Olivia Michelle.

Cascadia Art Museum

Kitsap County Museum

Make visiting local museums a tradition through all your PCS moves

“Don’t let your museum visits stop with this list in Washington. If you are traveling this summer, planning to visit home, or coming up on a PCS move, check the website for museums close to where you’re going” Harrell says.  She continues “Blue Star Families ensures that wherever American military families go, they can always feel connected, supported and empowered to thrive – in every community, across the nation, and around the globe.” There are thousands of museums across the country participating and there might be one close to where you are! Check out the full list of participating museums on Blue Star Museum’s Website.


Are you PCS’ing to JBLM? Contact one of our loan officers today to take advantage of your VA Loan Entitlement.

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