Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Museums on Us

There was a time when I could easily (if not generously) support the artistic and horticultural organizations that interest me.  But things are financially tight right now… as they may be with you… and I give careful thought to every expense.  I look out for special “community days”, coupons and partnerships that discount admission or purchases at museums and gardens.

Bank of America’s Museums on Us is one of those benefits that exists whether you use it or not!  As you can imagine, Bank of America contributes to many cultural institutions throughout the world, and they’ve asked over 150 of these museums to offer free admission to B-of-A customers every first weekend of the month.

You can view a complete list of participating sites online.  Keep in mind… Museums on Us sometimes corresponds with free “community days” at these organizations and not every site is open both Saturday and Sunday, so do a little homework before heading out.  But basically, you just need to show your Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit/debit card and a photo ID to receive free admission.  I’ve benefitted once a year since the program started, specifically, to visit the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore and the National Museum of Women in the Arts in D.C.  But I hope to take even greater advantage of Museums on Us this year.

Bank of America has one of the largest and most diverse corporate art collections in the world.  And about three years ago, they started lending out works for free.  Through their Art in Our Communities program, museums and art centers can borrow individual pieces or complete exhibitions.  Bank of America even covers the cost of packing and shipping works of art, restoration and framing, shipping insurance and some exhibition literature, so that organizations of all sizes can participate in Art in Our Communities.  Click here for a list of current traveling exhibitions.  You can also view some pieces from the Bank of America collection online.

And finally, Bank of America displays their collections in public art galleries at their headquarters in Charlotte, North Carolina; Boston; Los Angeles and San Francisco; Wilmington, Delaware; and London.  These galleries are open, for free, usually during regular business hours.  But they sometimes host special events and tours after hours.

Our hometown Bank of America branches provide “gallery” space for area artists and extra wall display for a local art gallery.  Yours may too.  It’s a nice way to emphasize the neighborhood feel of these offices and promote arts in the community.  Bank of America Corporation is one of the biggest financial companies in the United States, and in some ways, programs like Museums on Us and Art in Our Communities are simply good public relations.  But they also expand our idea of community.

And isn’t it great to get a little freebie from your bank?  Check out Museums on Us for something to do this weekend.

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