By Christina Hall, Detroit Free Press 12:18 a.m. EST March 1, 2015
Michigan library patrons can get into Michigan’s more than 230 state parks, historic sites, forest campgrounds, recreation areas for free, receive a personalized tour or get a discount in museum shop.
Ever been to the Michigan Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee?
How about one of the 102 state parks throughout Michigan?
If you haven’t, you should go. And starting May 24, Michigan library patrons can get into Michigan’s more than 230 state parks, historic sites, forest campgrounds and recreation areas for free, receive a personalized tour or get a special discount in the museum shop.
The MI Big Green Gym program is merging with the Michigan Activity Pass program, which will continue to offer free admission or other discounts to more than 100 cultural venues throughout the state.
“With the addition of these new venues, it gives (the Michigan Activity Pass) the statewide footprint we’ve really wanted to put on this program,” said Jim Flury, technical services manager at the Library Network in Novi, a program partner.
He said once people step outside Michigan’s metro areas and head outstate: “It’s all about the outdoors.”
“This gives us the component we’ve never had,” Flury said.
The Michigan Activity Pass program is expanding in its third year. Nearly 400 libraries participate statewide in the current program in addition to the more than 100 cultural attractions throughout the Lower and Upper peninsulas in Michigan.
Library patrons may remember the old program — the Museum Adventure Pass, which started in metro Detroit in 2007 and was sponsored by Macy’s. Library and cultural partners wanted to keep the program going when Macy’s announced in 2011 that it was ending sponsorship.
Through the years, the program has expanded and was renamed and revamped to being online. It is free for library patrons. Since the Michigan Activity Pass’ inception, its website has had about 220,000 hits, Flury said.
Cultural venues from the current year’s program, which ends May 23, are deciding whether to renew for next year’s program, which starts May 24 and runs through May 23, 2016. This year’s venues range from the Detroit Institute of Arts to the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum in Marquette.
Attractions name their offer and can change it during the year. Some tout free admission, others free offers or discounts in the gift shop. There will be five passes available per attraction per library each week. Library patrons must print out their passes, which are good for seven days.
“Through the Michigan Activity Pass, we hope to raise awareness of the Michigan Historical Museum and our affiliated historic sites around the state. We also hope to attract first-time visitors and build repeat visitors, especially in the summer months,” Mary Dettloff, a senior communications adviser with the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, wrote in an e-mail.
Maia Turek, a recreation programmer with the Michigan DNR, said a free, one-day pass will get a person into a park of his or her choice. That could save the person the cost of the $11-a-year recreation passport required to enter the park. She said this is also an opportunity to give visitors exposure to the 2,000 events at the state parks, almost all of which are free and often geared toward families.
Troy Henderson, a historian with the Michigan Historical Center, said he hopes the Michigan Activity Pass program will raise awareness of state historic sites, allowing visitors to learn about the state’s history.
For example, he said, the Iron Industry Museum in Negaunee, which had just under 14,000 visitors in fiscal year 2014, highlights the state’s iron industry, which started in the 1840s and played an important role in building communities.
But new locales aren’t the only ones hoping to benefit from participating. So are old ones, including at least one that is waiting for its first Michigan Activity Pass user.
The Crocker House Museum & Macomb County Historical Society in Mt. Clemens is willing to participate in the program again this coming season even though no one yet has used the pass for its site during the current season, director Kim Parr said. The pass offers free admission for children with a paid adult (with a two child per-adult limit.)
The museum is an 1869 house, built before electricity and indoor plumbing, and was built by the first mayor of Mt. Clemens. It is small, with displays about Mt. Clemens’ famous mineral bath era, and had 1,739 visitors last year, she said.
“We certainly would like to have more (visitors) than that,” Parr said. “My thought is even if we got them in the door for a tour, we offer so many events during the year there is probably a good chance they’ll come back for another event. … It could create some new memberships, more support for preserving our history.”
Arts & Scraps, a Detroit nonprofit group that uses about 28 tons of recycled industrial materials to help 275,000 people of all ages and abilities, plans to renew in the program.
The group offers four people to visit four stations to build and learn, then create a project to take home for free, a cost of about $5 per child, said Angela Hart, warehouse and products manager.
She said 25 to 50 families usually come to the location through the Michigan Activity Pass program, with 35 to 40 families coming last year.
“It’s cool that we’re reaching these new people that wouldn’t have typically ever come,” Hart said.
Contact Christina Hall: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @challreporter.
Michigan Activity Pass expanding
Eleven Michigan historic sites are to be added to the upcoming Michigan Activity Pass program, which runs from May 24 to May 23, 2016. More than 230 state parks, recreation areas and state forest campgrounds also are to be added to the more than 100 cultural venues already in the soon-to-be expanded program.
The historic sites to be added are:
Mann House Historic Site, Concord
Walker Tavern Historic Site, Brooklyn
Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic Site, Cass City
Tawas Point Lighthouse, East Tawas
Civilian Conservation Corps Museum, Roscommon
Hartwick Pines Logging Museum, Grayling
Father Marquette National Memorial, St. Ignace
Fayette Historic Town Site, Garden
Michigan Iron Industry Museum, Negaunee
Ft. Wilkins Historic Site, Copper Harbor
Michigan Historical Museum, Lansing
BaySail Appledore Tall Ships
Quincy Mine Tours
Mineral Museum of Michigan (A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum)
World War II Glider and Military Museum
Cornish Pumping Engine and Mining Museum
Menominee Range Historical Museum
Krasl Art Center
Liberty Hyde Bailey Museum
Iron County Historical Museum
Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia
Source: Jim Flury, technical services director, Michigan Library Network
If you go:
For a list of this year’s Michigan Activity Pass venues and their offers go to www.michiganactivitypass.info. This year’s program ends May 23. It will renew the next day, May 24, with the addition of the state historic sites, state parks, recreation areas and state forest campgrounds.
…..library users with a valid library card from one of Michigan’s nearly 400 public libraries can print a pass, either from home or at the library, to one of the nearly 130 participating institutions at the http:>//michiganactivitypass.info website. Some cultural partners offer complimentary or reduced price admission; others, discounts in their gift shop or other exclusive offers for MAP pass holders only.
Each Michigan Activity Pass expires within one week from the date it is printed.
Each library will have five passes for each of the participating organizations available.