Free Fun Fridays Returns June 28 for 11th Year
One hundred cultural venues across Massachusetts will open their doors for free on Fridays this summer, marking the 11th anniversary of Free Fun Fridays, funded by the Highland Street Foundation to offer visitors no-cost access to museums, theaters, historic sites, zoos and treasured collections.
Free Fun Fridays 2019 will take place for 10 consecutive Fridays — beginning June 28 and continuing through Aug. 30 — with 100 venues welcoming visitors in a free-of-charge public celebration of culture and history that is unprecedented outside of the national museums in Washington, D.C.
This year's theme is "Your Ticket to Summer Fun" and participating venues include the Boston Children's Museum, Charles River Watershed, Battleship Cove, Worcester Historical Museum, Old Sturbridge Village, Norman Rockwell Museum and the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History. Three new venues have joined the Free Fun Fridays mix: Capron Park Zoo, in Attleboro, Museum of Printing in Haverhill, and Mass Audubon's Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Newton-based Highland Street Foundation, a family-directed organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for Massachusetts children and families. During the past 11 years, Free Fun Fridays has emerged as a signature initiative of the foundation, which has invested $7.2 million in cultivating a game-changing opportunity for families and the state’s cultural institutions, both small and large.
"As Highland Street Foundation turns 30, we continue our efforts to increase access and opportunities for children and families in Massachusetts," Highland Street Foundation Executive Director Blake Jordan said. "We're very excited that in our 11th year, Free Fun Fridays and our partner institutions will offer enrichment, entertainment and education in every region of the state. There are so many options in 2019, we're looking forward to a great summer."
Since it was launched in 2009, Free Fun Fridays have drawn more than 1.3 million visitors to a range of institutions celebrating arts, culture and history that ranges from classical to contemporary, from the official to the off-beat. Last summer, Free Fun Fridays venues drew 153,000 people.
For visitors, there are an abundance of collected treasures, from the classical to the offbeat. Visitors can take in Toulouse Lautrec at the Museum of Fine Arts, trace the hunt for Moby Dick at the New Bedford Whaling Museum or learn more about early Boston at the Museum of African American History. Then there are unique collections of The Museum of Russian Icons in Clinton, the New England Quilt Museum in Lowell, the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, and the Spellman Museum of Stamps & Postal History in Weston.
At the Children's Museum, Free Fun Fridays have helped bring more Boston-area children and families through the doors each summer. The Smith College Museum of Art says Free Fun Fridays attendance outpaces traditional Friday attendance. At the Griffin Museum of Photography in Winchester, admissions quadruple in 2018.
This year there are free musical and dramatic performances at the Gloucester Stage Company, Jacob's Pillow, Berkshire Theatre Group, Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company and Boston Symphony Orchestra at Tanglewood.
Each year, Highland Street Foundation partners with venues in every corner of the state to open their doors for free. Free Fun Fridays is one of many programs created and supported by the Highland Street Foundation to increase access and opportunities for children and families throughout Massachusetts.
The complete list can be found online. Several Berkshire County venues are participating:
June 28: Clark Art Institute, Norman Rockwell Museum, The Mount
July 5: Jacob's Pillow
June 12: Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center
July 26: Ventfort Hall Mansion & Gilded Age Museum
Aug. 2: Naumkeag
Aug. 9: Hancock Shaker Village
Aug. 16: Berkshire Theatre Group
Aug. 23: Berkshire Museum
Aug. 30: Mass MoCA