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Some museums are now free for Ohio 4th graders

an old timey looking public landing with a fake steam boat and storefront
Tana Weingartner
Ohio 4th grade students can get free admission to a host of history museums now through the end of 2026.

Museums across Ohio are making admission free for fourth grade students as part of the state's celebration of America's upcoming 250th anniversary. The Fourth Grade History pass offers free admission to select history museums through a partnership with America 250-Ohio.

"History is not just a past moment, frozen in time; it is the various threads of our shared cultural fabric that inform us about who we are, where we have been and where we can go," says Elizabeth Pierce, president and CEO of Cincinnati Museum Center, one of the participating museums. She is also a member of the America 250-Ohio commission.

"Museums offer a tangible, vivid learning experience that can supplement curriculum by bringing lessons to life," she adds.

RELATED: Preble County project among several local bids getting America 250 funding

Participating museums include Cincinnati's National Underground Railroad Freedom Center, Ohio History Connection sites across the state, the Western Reserve Historical Society/Cleveland History Center and a host of others.

"Ohio is steeped in important history," says Amy Bottomley, Ed.D., director of education at the Freedom Center. "We have a really diverse history here in the United States, right here in the state of Ohio. So traveling throughout the state, and learning about all the different diverse perspectives, can open your eyes and broaden your understanding about Ohio history and United States history."

She says that's essential for young people and for adults.

"To understand American history, you have to embrace your state's history as well."

Why 4th grade?

Ohio's fourth grade curriculum focuses on state history, including how the state was created and developed alongside the U.S. The Ohio Department of Education says this is when the foundational elements of U.S. history are introduced and students begin studying "prehistoric Ohio cultures, early American life, the U.S. Constitution and the evolution of Ohio and the United States."

Fourth grade students can get one voucher per student per transaction for the free admission. Other visitors, such as family members, will need to pay regular admission, and vouchers are not good for group admission and do not include featured exhibits or OMNIMAX films.

The vouchers will be good through Dec. 31, 2026.

RELATED: Ohio's semiquincentennial commission issues first batch of celebration recommendations

The Ohio Commission for the U.S. Semiquincentennial is the group tasked with planning Ohio's part — America 250-Ohio — of the USA's 250th anniversary, which is coming up in 2026. Each state is encouraged to craft programs to commemorate the milestone, focusing on how the state has contributed to the nation over the past 250 years.

Senior Editor and reporter at WVXU with more than 20 years experience in public radio; formerly news and public affairs producer with WMUB. Would really like to meet your dog.