New ‘pass’ offers free museum admission to Ohio fourth graders

Fourth graders across Ohio can visit Cincinnati Museum Center, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center and other museums free of charge thanks to a new program celebrating state history.

The Fourth Grade History Pass is an effort by America 250-Ohio, a state commission responsible for leading state’s celebrations around the United States’ semiquincentennial in 2026.

Programming features a range of activities related to Ohio’s history, famous residents and overall cultural impact. Earlier this year the commission awarded grants to support a variety of art-centric projects, including three in Cincinnati.

An exhibit inside the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center.

With the pass, America 250-Ohio wants to cultivate curiosity in some of the state’s youngest minds ahead of the 250th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

In addition to CMC and the Freedom Center, participating museums include renowned institutions such as the Ohio History Connection sites, Western Reserve Historical Society/Cleveland History Center and a host of others across the state.

“History is not just a past moment, frozen in time; history 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,” said Elizabeth Pierce, CMC’s president and CEO.

Bringing school lessons to life

Around the country, the fourth grade curriculum centers foundational elements of state and U.S. history, per the Ohio Department of Education. Students in this grade study the historical, geographical, governmental and economic aspects of their state and the entire country. 

In Ohio, students in that grade – typically 9 or 10 years old – learn about foundational elements of U.S. history through the study of prehistoric cultures, early American life, the U.S. Constitution and the overall growth of the country.

In turn, students use history to better grasp what’s going on in the present-day, according to Amy Bottomley, director of educational initiatives at the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center. She noted that museums can supplement those lessons by offering a “tangible, vivid learning experience” by bringing to life what they read about in school.

An Ohio-centric display inside Cincinnati Museum Center.

“They can energize students, bringing lessons to life and providing a fact-based environment where they can develop and hone their critical thinking skills,” Bottomley said of museums.

Students can redeem the free general admission by presenting a digital or printed voucher available at the America 250-Ohio website. In most cases, the vouchers don’t cover the cost of special exhibitions. Regular admission fees apply for accompanying family members and vouchers are not valid for group visits.

The voucher program and all vouchers expire on Dec. 31, 2026.

Fourth Grade History Pass


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