Miami-Dade County

Want a free day at the museum? Get in line

Miami Beach Branch Library on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017.
Miami Beach Branch Library on Friday, Aug. 11, 2017.

Want to bring your family of four to the Pérez Art Museum Miami? That will be $56. Looking to check out those sharks everyone likes at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science? Chalk up $96, please.

Or, you can go for free.

The Museum Pass Program through the Miami-Dade Public Library makes it possible to skip the fees and enjoy the experience, all just by registering a library card. The program is one of the library system’s most popular, and includes 13 different museum partners like Miami Children’s Museum, Viscaya Museum and Gardens and even Zoo Miami.

The pass is good for four people, and become available on a first-come, first-served basis. The only trick? Getting one.

There are roughly 20 passes per library, and 1,076 out at any given time, according to library records. Some libraries report lines outside before they even open, since cardholders can check online the night before to pinpoint which libraries will have available passes the next morning.

Although the program began in 2011, it has grown in both partnering museums and popularity. Since pricy, new museums like the Frost have opened in recent months, Leila Khalil, a spokeswoman for the library system, said she’s seen spikes in people trying to get their hands on the passes.

“Many people cannot afford to visit these places,” Khalil said. “The Museum Pass Program makes it possible for them to do so. Our partners have been very generous with their admission pass donations.”

The smaller museums like HistoryMiami and Miami Children’s Museum offer around 50 passes across all 50 county branches. Medium-sized sites like the Wolfsonian and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Art offer around 100. Museums like the Frost Museum or Pérez Art Museum have about 200 distributed among the libraries.

Alena Novitckaia lives on Miami Beach, and snagged the last Zoo Miami pass Friday morning.

“I’ll just be two minutes!” she told librarians over the phone as she drove to the 22nd Street location.

Novitckaia, 31, said the pass will help fund a family weekend.

“My husband’s family is coming,” she said. “We are taking his nephews to the zoo,”

A 67-year-old Miami Beach resident who goes by “Caroline I.” picked up the last pass for Viscaya Museum and Gardens at around 10:15 a.m. Friday. She’s bringing her four grandchildren, so she’ll be saving $24.

“It’s money-saving. I think it’s great,” she said. “Every little bit helps.”

Caroline said she used to have a library card in Broward County, and got one in Miami-Dade when she moved to Miami Beach so she could access the passes.

She’s not the first to get reacquainted with the library since the program began. Khalil said after hearing about the program, an influx of people have either registered for a card or renewed their library card. As a result, they are realizing all the services the libraries offer, like DVD rentals and eBooks.

“Some had never even visited our libraries before,” she said.