Members of the military are getting a free ride at local museums this summer.
Officials from the National Endowment for the Arts -- including NEA chairman Rocco Landesman -- were alongside San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and Navy Rear Adm. Garry Bonelli on Monday at an event announcing local participation in the nationwide Blue Star Museums project. Active-duty military personnel will be able to go to 14 museums in San Diego from Memorial Day to Labor Day under the program -- and hundreds of others around America.
"It is a great way to thank the servicemen and women," Landesman told the Washington Post before the event at the San Diego Museum of Art.
Local participating museums include the San Diego Hall of Champions, the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum, the Timken Museum of Art, the California Surf Museum, the Japanese Friendship Garden, the Lux Art Institute in Encinitas, the Mingei International Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Arts San Diego, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Oceanside Museum of Art, the San Diego Archaeological Center and the San Diego History Center.
The U.S. list includes some of the nation's premier art museums, including New York's Museum of Modern Art and the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as science centers, children's museums and other sites in all 50 states.
The program was the brainchild of Kathy Roth-Douquet, chairwoman of the group Blue Star Families. Her husband, Marine Corps Col. Greg Douquet, is on his third deployment to Afghanistan.
"You can feel a little alone in America right now, being part of the 1 percent that's involved in fighting these wars," she said, adding that the recession has changed priorities for many people. "When the kids and I go to museums this summer, we know we're being welcomed. It will make us feel less alone."
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