Michigan Activity Pass offers deals on cultural attractions

By: Andy Kozlowski, Jeremy Selweski | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published June 5, 2013

Organizations participating in the Michigan Activity Pass include:

• Art Experience
• Arts & Scraps
• Buick Automotive Gallery
• Carr Center
• Castle Farms
• Castle Museum
• Charlevoix Depot Museum
• Charlevoix Harsha House Museum
• Chippewa Nature Center
• Cranbrook Institute of Art
• Detroit Institute of Arts
• DeVos Art Museum
• Fire Barn Museum
• Flint Institute of Arts
• Gibraltar Historical Museum
• Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center
• Hackley & Hume Historic Site
• Hamburg Historical Museum
• Hidden Lake Gardens
• Holocaust Memorial Center
• Howell Conference/Nature Center
• Icebreaker Mackinaw Maritime Museum
• Jackson Historic Prison Tours
• Kalamazoo Valley Museum
• Kelsey Museum of Archaeology
• Kids ’N’ Stuff Children’s Museum
• Knowlton’s Ice Museum
• Lakeshore Museum Center
• Longway Planetarium
• Marshall M. Fredericks Sculpture Museum
• Mary’s City of David
• Meadowbrook Hall
• Michigan Firehouse Museum
• Michigan Philharmonic
• Midwest Miniatures Museum
• Monroe County Historical Museum
• Montrose Historical Museum
• Muskegon Museum of Art
• Oakland County Historical Society
• Nelis Dutch Village
• Performance Network Theatre
• Old Mill Museum
• Rentschler Farm Museum
• Plymouth Historical Museum
• Saline Railroad Depot Museum
• R.E. Olds Transportation Museum
• Sloan Museum
• Scolnik House of the Depression Era
• Toonerville Trolley/Riverboat Tour
• Southern Michigan Railroad
• Troy Historic Village
• Top of the Lake Snowmobile Museum
• Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum
• U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame/Museum
• Wheels of History Museum
• Wexford County Historical Museum
• Yankee Air Museum
• William G. Thompson House/Gardens

— Andy Kozlowski

MACOMB TOWNSHIP/CLINTON TOWNSHIP — Your library card just became a passport to about 60 educational venues across the state, thanks to a new program that started last month at nearly 400 participating libraries, including the Clinton-Macomb Public Library.

The Michigan Activity Pass offers free or reduced admission, gift shop discounts and other exclusive deals to popular arts and cultural attractions that promise a good time for the whole family. It’s a spiritual successor to the Museum Adventure Pass, which Macy’s hosted for the last five years in metro Detroit. Unlike that particular program, though, the Michigan Activity Pass — which officially launched on May 24 — extends its offer to venues throughout the entire state, from Monroe to Muskegon to Marquette to Mackinaw City, and all points in between.

The revised program is a collaborative effort between The Library Network (TLN), the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Library of Michigan Foundation, and CultureSource. Like its predecessor, the Michigan Activity Pass serves as a supplement to the learning experience provided by libraries, offering discounted rates to cultural attractions that organizers hope will encourage a return trip to the library to learn more about its history.

All you need to participate is a valid library card. From there, it’s as simple as visiting your local library’s website to print out a pass to the Michigan venue of your choice — you don’t even have to physically go to the library to do it. Each library has five passes available per location per week, and each pass lasts for seven days after it’s checked out.

“What we’re trying to do is actively engage in a process that offers a variety of venues that will attract families out of their home environment,” said Jim Pletz, director of TLN. “By doing that, we hope that we’re also encouraging follow-up reading in the summertime.”

As an example, he pointed to the tours of Jackson Historic Prison, which give people an inside look at the now-shuttered maximum-security prison. “Perhaps they could read up on what prisoners were there after they go on the tour,” Pletz said. “We think there’s real value to that follow-up research.”

There is a wide variety of  attractions. You can learn about the entire history of Oldsmobile cars at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing, see one of the country’s most impressive collections of built-to-scale architectural models at the Midwest Miniatures Museum between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, or learn all about warplanes at the Yankee Air Museum in Belleville. And this is just a small sampling of the participating venues.

According to Jamie Morris, community relations specialist for the Clinton-Macomb Public Library, while not all the attractions are free like they were under the Museum Adventure Pass, there are a lot more options for people to choose from this year with the Michigan Activity Pass. And although there is no set end date for the program at this time, she said she believes that now is the perfect time to get it started.

“I think it’s great that this is taking place in the summer because parents can take their kids to some places that are fun, family-friendly and educational while they’re out of school,” Morris said. “The Museum Adventure Pass was originally only supposed to be for one year, but it was so popular that they expanded it to every single year. We’re hoping that they decide to do the same thing with the Michigan Activity Pass.”

Morris pointed out that through these types of programs, libraries are playing a crucial role in helping curious residents explore their community and discover some enriching cultural experiences.

“We’re here to help people take this concept to the next level and keep their interest alive,” she said. “They’re more than welcome to come back to the library to do more research on the places that they visited. This is just a wonderful program, so we encourage as many people as possible to participate.”

For Ginger Olson, head of circulation for the Rochester Hills Public Library, one of the greatest strengths of the Michigan Activity Pass is that it serves as a gateway to all sorts of knowledge about Michigan and its history.

“When the original version of this program was first created, it introduced people to a lot of museums and other attractions that they either had never visited before or weren’t even aware of,” she explained. “So I think it has really exposed people to some new places and encouraged them to check out those places first-hand.” 

Rebecca Willemsen, library technician at the Madison Heights Public Library, added that the 60 participating arts and cultural institutions aren’t the only ones benefiting from this program.

“What we’ve seen as a public library, and what I’ve seen personally, is that families hear about the program and some end up getting a library card when they haven’t been to a library in years,” she said. “And once they get the card, they realize that the library has computers and other resources that they didn’t have when they were a kid.

“So the exposure works both ways,” she concluded. “It allows people who wouldn’t be able to afford attending these venues the chance to do so, and since they didn’t have library cards active in their local libraries before, they find that they now have another reason to come visit and see what the library has to offer.”

To acquire a Michigan Activity Pass from the Clinton-Macomb Public Library, visit www.cmpl.org, click on the ‘Local Interest’ tab, then click on the ‘Michigan Activity Pass’ link and follow the instructions. For any additional questions, call the library at (586) 226-5020.

For more information about the program in general, visit The Library Network’s website at www.tln.lib.mi.us.