CLOSE

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

As many students learn from their kitchen tables and their bedrooms, Shelby County is offering a chance for school children to also experience firsthand the National Civil Rights Museum, thousands of works of art and the stories of Memphis’ musical icons.

“901 Student Passport” will allow every school-aged child in Shelby County, regardless of his or her assigned school district, to visit eight museums and galleries for free. An accompanying parent may also visit for free.

The program could act as a pilot to explore offering free museum admission in the vein of other communities around the nation, some of which offer free admission throughout the year to children, free admission in summer or free admission one day a week, said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris.

“We want to open our most important cultural assets to as many people as people as possible,” Harris said. 

For now, the program, which has already begun, will last until the end of 2020. Students may download and print their “passports” at http://www.901StudentPassport.com or pick up a free passport at their local public library.

Participating museums include the Fire Museum of Memphis, Pink Palace Museum, National Civil Rights Museum, Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, Lichterman Nature Center, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and Slave Haven Underground Railroad Museum.

“I hope they’ll learn a lot about our community, our community’s history and its culture,” Harris said. “Shelby County and Memphis have really made an important impact on the world. We could instill a lot of important pride in the next generation as they see the exhibits and learn about how all the pieces fit together.”

Each passport entitles a student and parent to one free visit to each location. Students who complete their passport by receiving a stamp from each location will earn a reward from Harris after emailing, mailing or dropping off the completed passport at the Shelby County Mayor’s Office, 160 N. Mail, 11th Floor, Memphis, TN 38103 or [email protected] 

Harris said the program was developed as county officials learned of how the COVID-19 pandemic had impacted museums and galleries throughout the county, particularly those that depend on field trips for revenue. 

County officials also wanted to provide learning opportunities for families during the pandemic, especially while many parents operate as in-home teachers. 

Each of the museums and galleries will receive a a $30,000 CARES Act grant for their participation.

At the Fire Museum of Memphis, students will learn the history of the Memphis Fire Department, how to survive a structure fire and how to call 911 in an emergency.

The National Civil Rights Museum walks students and others through the historic Lorraine Motel, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. There, students can see exhibits on the Freedom Riders, on school integration and on lunch counter sit-ins.

“The American Civil Rights Movement crescendos in Downtown Memphis in front of the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated,” museum president Terri Freeman said in a news release. “As we continue the fight for equity and equality, we encourage students to visit the sacred grounds of the Civil Rights Museum for a history lesson that informs and inspires.”

The Dixon Gallery and Gardens offers both a fine art museum and a public garden with programs in the arts and horticulture, while the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art is home to more than 10,000 works of art spanning 5,000 years of global history and culture.

“Art not only educates, enriches and inspires, it sparks creativity and critical thinking,” said Emily Neff, executive director of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions

At the Memphis Rock ‘n’ Soul Museum, which was developed by the Smithsonian Institution, students will learn the stories of musical icons of all racial and socio-economic backgrounds, said director John Doyle in a news release.

“Through the 901 Student Passport program, these stories of local musicians past and present, as told at Rock ‘n’ Soul, can build civic pride, inspire our students to dream big, to explore their own creativity, and to also change the planet,” Doyle said.

Last year alone, the Pink Palace served more than 128,000 students through field trips and educational programs at the Museum and Lichterman Nature Center. At those locations, students can learn about animal rehabilitation, urban wildlife and the natural and cultural histories of the Mid-South.

And at Slave Haven, students can learn about the Underground Railroad while visiting an antebellum home that once served as a safe house for enslaved Africans escaping to freedom.

“During the 901Student Passport program, students will learn lessons of courage and determination of those who sought freedom at all cost and lessons of compassion and bravery of those who aided them on their journey,” said Elaine Turner, director of Slave Haven. “We welcome students to come and take an unforgettable walk through history that is sure to motivate and inspire them.”

Katherine Burgess covers county government and religion. She can be reached at [email protected], 901-529-2799 or followed on Twitter @kathsburgess.

Read or Share this story: https://www.commercialappeal.com/story/news/2020/10/10/901-student-passport-offers-free-field-trips-students-2020/5938177002/