Tacoma’s Museum of Glass was selected this month as one of six museums from around the country to host a celebration of the Blue Star Museums Joining Forces Initiative.
The initiative, spearheaded by First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, provides free admission to active-duty military and their family members from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
The event takes place on Aug. 24 from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. It will open with a presentation of colors by a military color guard followed by remarks by dignitaries including Museum of Glass Director Tim Close; Debra Entenman from U.S. Congressman Adam Smith’s Office; and Army Colonel Dr. Diane M. Flynn, chief of the Department of Pain Management at Madigan Army Medical Center. Flynn recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan.
Following the remarks, military families will participate in glass fusing workshops and docent-led tours of the Hot Shop and galleries. In conjunction with the event, both Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland and Washington Governor Christine Gregoire have proclaimed Aug. 24 as Blue Star Museums Day.
Blue Star Museums began two years ago as a partnership between Blue Star Families, the National Endowment for the Arts and more than 1,500 participating museums. Participating museums donate all tickets for military participants.
When planning the events each year, organizers look for areas with high military concentrations and a vibrant arts community, said Blue Star Program Manager Regina Galvin.
Organizers also seek out museums that offer diversity or variety, she added. This year, museums in Denver, Honolulu, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Washington D.C. will participate in the Blue Star Initiative. Each site represents different types of art including theater, classical and contemporary.
The Museum of Glass was chosen for its proximity to Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
“Deployment out of Lewis is pretty substantial,” Galvin said.
The museum’s reputation is well known across the country, especially with the National Endowment for the Arts, which highly recommended it for inclusion in the program this year, Galvin added.
“They were very enthusiastic about the museum,” she added.
When the museum was asked to participate in the event, its staff enthusiastically accepted, said Museum of Glass Director Tim Close.
“We’re thrilled and excited to be selected,” Close said. “We’re just proud to have the opportunity to honor the military from the South Sound. It also proves that the museum is impacting the lives of our visitors.”
The Blue Star Initiative recognizes some military base locations may lack opportunities for cultural enrichment, Galvin said.
“This program provides a beautiful distraction that allows them to escape into a beautiful, aesthetic world,” she added.
She also recognizes that arts and military do not always go hand in hand.
“When they come together, we realize they aren’t so different after all,” she said. “There can be a beautiful, symbiotic relationship.”
The Museum of Glass is open Wednesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Third Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free for members, $12 general, $10 seniors, military and students (13+ with identification), $10 groups of 10 or more, $5 children 6-12 years old. Children under 6 are admitted free. Admission is free every third Thursday of the month from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
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