The Mint Museum and two of its uptown neighbors are joining Blue Star Museums, a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 1,600 museums across America to offer free admission to all active duty military personnel, including active Reserve and National Guard, and their families from Memorial Day through Labor Day 2012. All Blue Star Museums, including the Mint, Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, and Levine Museum of the New South, are offering free admission to all military ID holders and up to five family members. In addition, the Mint is offering free admission to any veteran with a Veterans Identification Card and up to five of their family members for the summer. The initiative applies to both Mint locations. “We are happy to be able to offer ourselves as a resource to support military families and veterans this summer,” said Hillary Cooper, director of communications and media relations at The Mint Museum. “We are an ideal family-friendly attraction and this initiative offers a chance to deepen and broaden our community connections.” The Mint recently acquired the work “Defiant Gardens” by Texas artist Dario Robleto, and the seven-foot-tall, five-foot-wide wreath-shaped sculpture has proven thought-provoking for veterans and military families because of its powerful themes of wartime memories. “Defiant Gardens” incorporates paper pulp made from American soldier’s letters, Victorian hair flowers braided by war widows, dried flowers from various battlefields, and even tiny carrier-pigeon message capsules among its materials. The work was added to the museum’s permanent collection through the generosity of the Mint Museum Auxiliary. The museum is inviting military families and veterans to experience the work along with its other collections and exhibitions, and plans to offer special programming incorporating “Defiant Gardens” later in the summer (details will be announced at a later date). The Blue Star Museums initiative is just one part of the excitement going on this summer at the Mint. Spots are still open at the Mint’s Summer Art Camps (see attachment for more information), and new exhibition openings, educational programs, celebrations, and more will continue while school is out. For more information, visit mintmuseum.org. National Blue Star Museums announcement The Mint’s announcement follows a national announcement of the Blue Star Museums initiative in New York City on Tuesday. “Through Blue Star Museums, the arts community is extending a special invitation to military families to enjoy over 1,600 museums this summer,” said NEA Chairman Rocco Landesman. “This is both an opportunity to thank military families for their service and sacrifice, as well as a chance to create connections between museums and these families that will continue throughout the year. Especially for families with limited time together, those on a limited budget, and ones that have to relocate frequently, Blue Star Museums offers an opportunity to enjoy one another and become more fully integrated into a community.” This year, more than 1,600 (and counting) museums in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa are taking part in the initiative. Leadership support has been provided by MetLife Foundation through Blue Star Families. FOLLOW: Blue Star Museums is on Twitter at @NEAarts, hashtag #bluestarmuse. To learn more about the White House’s Joining Forces initiative visit JoiningForces.gov and follow on Twitter @JoiningForces and on Facebook. Follow Blue Star Families on Twitter, @BlueStarFamily, and on Facebook. ABOUT BLUE STAR MUSEUMS Blue Star Museums is a collaboration among the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, the Department of Defense, and more than 1,600 museums across America. The program runs from Memorial Day, May 28, 2012 through Labor Day, September 3, 2012. The free admission program is available to active-duty military and their family members (military ID holder and up to five family members). Active duty military include Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and active duty National Guard and active duty Reserve members. Some special or limited-time museum exhibits may not be included in this free admission program. To see which museums are participating, visit www.arts.gov/bluestarmuseums. ABOUT BLUE STAR FAMILIES Blue Star Families is a national, nonprofit network of military families from all ranks and services, including guard and reserve, with a mission to support, connect and empower military families. In addition to morale and empowerment programs, Blue Star Families raises awareness of the challenges and strengths of military family life and works to make military life more sustainable through programs and partnerships like Operation Honor Cards, MilKidz Club and Blue Star Museums. Membership includes military spouses, children and parents as well as service members, veterans and the civilians who strongly support them. To learn more about Blue Star Families, visit www.bluestarfam.org. ABOUT THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $4 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at arts.gov. This is the latest NEA program to bring quality arts programs to the military, veterans, and their families. Other NEA programs for the military have included Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience; Great American Voices Military Base Tour; and Shakespeare in American Communities Military Base Tour. ABOUT THE MINT MUSEUM As the oldest art museum in North Carolina, and the art museum with one of the largest collections in the Southeast, The Mint Museum offers its visitors inspiring and transformative experiences through art from around the world via innovative collections, ground-breaking exhibitions, riveting educational programs, and profound scholarship. The Mint Museum is a non-profit, visual arts institution comprised of two dynamic facilities: Mint Museum Uptown and Mint Museum Randolph. Located in what was the original branch of the United States Mint, Mint Museum Randolph opened in 1936 in Charlotte’s Eastover neighborhood as the state’s first art museum. Today, in a beautiful park setting, intimate galleries invite visitors to engage with the art of the ancient Americas, ceramics and decorative arts, fashion, European and African art, among other collections. Resources include a reference library with over 18,000 volumes, a theater featuring lectures and performances, and a museum shop offering merchandise that complements both the permanent collection and special exhibitions. Mint Museum Uptown houses the internationally renowned Craft + Design collection, as well as outstanding collections of American, contemporary, and European art. Designed by Machado and Silvetti Associates of Boston, the five-story, 145,000-square-foot facility combines inspiring architecture with cutting-edge exhibitions to provide visitors with unparalleled educational and cultural experiences. Located in the heart of Charlotte’s burgeoning center city, Mint Museum Uptown is an integral part of the Levine Center for the Arts, a cultural campus that includes the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts and Culture, the Knight Theater, and the Duke Energy Center. Mint Museum Uptown also features a wide range of visitor amenities, including the 240-seat James B. Duke Auditorium, the Lewis Family Gallery, art studios, a restaurant, and a museum shop. For more information, check out mintmuseum.org.