Those readers who live in the Muncie area are probably familiar with Minnetrista, a community gathering place where individuals and families can develop relationships through educational experiences. The museum is always filled with interesting exhibits (I highly recommend everyone check out the current Ball Jar Canning exhibit!) and the beautiful grounds offer a space for public events and outdoor adventures. We here at BBBS are delighted to announce that Minnetrista has made available to our Bigs and Littles the opportunity to participate in Museums for All. This program, which launched in October, resulted from a collaboration between the Association of Children's Museums and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Participating families receive a renewable 12-month membership from Minnetrista for $5, which is the usual price for a one-time, individual entry to the museum. Rebecca Gillam, the Vice President of Visitor Experiences at Minnetrista, was generous to lend me some of her time to explain how Minnetrista decided to participate in MFA and explain what their dreams are for its impact in Muncie.

What does Minnetrista membership offer to our Bigs and Littles? Turns out, quite a lot.  "As a member, you’re an insider," Gillam explains. "You know first what’s going on in our institution, and you have access to all of our programs, activities, and events. Membership is about feeling like you’re a part of our family, that we’re available to you, and that you can enjoy everything we offer to the fullest." Upcoming events include this Saturday's indoor farmer's market and exhibits like December's "Imagination Playground," which is a definite kid-pleaser. Gillam particularly recommends Minnetrista's beautiful backyard and gardens. "The Oakhurst space in particular is so fun for imaginative play and family-togetherness time," she says. "And if the weather’s not great I would spend my time inside at one of our exhibitions or the cabin we open a couple times a week. It’s such a fun play space—there are lots of games and activities. It’s a great getaway." As for exhibits? "After we get through the holidays, we’re opening an exciting new exhibition in February—a dinosaur exhibit! Dinosaurs are coming!" You heard it here first.

Why $5? "It’s not about how Minnetrista benefits," says Gillam. "We are a hub and anchor for the entire community and want to make sure everyone who desires access to the Minnetrista experience has it. $5 seemed like a very reasonable price for a family for a year of membership. There is value in what Minnetrista offers, and we want the participants to feel empowered by their purchase of a membership while still breaking down the barrier of price. We really appreciate that they are prioritizing the education and community that Minnetrista provides.” 

When considering who would benefit most from participating in Museums for All, Minnetrista wanted to cater to Muncie organizations that strive to serve families and develop relationships in our community. Gillam herself has spent about a month extending MFA information to social services like libraries to make Muncie more aware about this opportunity. So far, so good. The community has been receptive as far as positive feedback. Now Minnetrista just wants more participants, which is where we're hoping our Bigs and Littles will come in! Their decision to reach out to us makes it possible for us to extend to our fantastic volunteers and their families a space for them to play and learn together-- exactly the kind of quality time we know they seek out. Gillam says, "We want our space to be the go-to place for families or mentors and mentees to come spend time together. Our hope is to create a positive impact in their lives and relationships." We have to agree!

If you're interested in learning more about Minnetrista, their website is informative.

This page has more to say about Museums for All as a national program.

Many thanks to Rebecca Gillam for her interview, to Minnetrista for making this opportunity possible, and to our lovely readers. Thanks for taking the time to keep up with us!