The Garden State has a wealth of historical spots, iconic cultural centers, and plenty of hidden gems along the way. However, for many families, the cost of admission may be a barrier to accessing and enjoying our State’s arts and culture venues. Thankfully, the Families First Discovery Pass allows families of all backgrounds to explore some of New Jersey’s best cultural and educational experiences.

The Families First Discovery Pass is a collaboration between the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New Jersey Historical Commission, with support from the Department of Health and the Department of Human Services. The program allows families who receive state assistance (WIC, SNAP, etc.) to access free or heavily discounted tickets to arts and history organizations, venues, and programs. The program allows families to explore some of the State’s arts and cultural landmarks while allowing cultural organizations to engage with a new audience. The Discovery Pass helps to break down barriers and build long-standing relationships between participants and the cultural programs they can now attend.

Some of the incredible organizations and venues associated with this program include:

  • New Jersey State Museum
  • State Theatre of New Jersey
  • Grounds for Sculpture
  • Princeton Symphony Orchestra
  • Hamilton House Museum
  • George Street Playhouse
  • American Repertory Ballet

and so much more!

A comprehensive list of the available locations can be found here: Participants – Discovery Pass. Although the discount should be administered the same way across all areas, each organization can determine the extent of the value and the number of people the discount applies to. So that you know, specific events or exhibits may be excluded from the discount. Organizations can limit the number of spots available for particular events or classes. Participants should present their Families First or eWic card to identify their eligibility. Any payment due can be paid via cash, credit card, etc.

Engaging with the State’s museums, cultural venues, and more can be a transformative experience for every family member. According to the Museum Association, museums “can increase our sense of wellbeing, help us feel proud of where we have come from, inspire, challenge and stimulate us, and make us feel healthier.” Exposing ourselves to new cultures, ideas, and concepts is consequential in breaking down barriers and overcoming injustice in our society. Museums and other cultural venues provide a space for dialogue and understanding, allowing communities to set aside their differences and connect over what brings us together. These experiences unify communities, elevate the stories of incredible figures, and help to break down injustices, discrimination, and inequality in the communities they serve.

If you and your family could benefit from this program and would like to read more, additional details are available here: Families First Disc. Pass – DOS. If you represent an organization and would like to participate as a location in the program, please submit the following form here: Organization Sign-Up. If you have any questions about the initiative, you can submit them here: Contact Us. Now get out there and start exploring!

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