All around the Sunshine State, museums offer special discounts and programs to members. If you’re a Florida resident or a frequent visitor, membership has its rewards.

By Amy Shepherd Nance

In Florida, museum membership has its rewards. The state may be best known for its beaches and sunshine, but the horizon isn’t the only thing on view. A variety of noteworthy museums are found here, and it pays to be in-the-know about their membership programs, free museum days, annual passes and reciprocal agreements. Floridians and visitors alike will find affordable incentives to keep up with the cultural zeitgeist.

Many museums have reciprocal programs. The North American Reciprocal Museum Program provides museum-goers with a compelling reason to become members. With more than 400 museums participating, museums share admission privileges for members. Simply present your membership card with its gold NARM sticker and enjoy free admission. In Florida, that includes The Ringling Museum of Art and The Salvador Dalí Museum, as well as The Museum of Contemporary Art Jacksonville, The Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando and The Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona Beach, among others.

Florida Museum of Natural History

This top research museum in Gainesville holds collections in areas as varied as Ichthyology – the study of fishes – and Malacology (shells). The popular Butterfly Rainforest is a permanent exhibit and invites visitors to wander year ‘round through a screened structure filled with tropical flora, waterfalls and the titular butterflies. General museum admission is free. All museum members receive free admission to the Butterfly Rainforest and temporary exhibits, discounts in the gift shops and for children’s classes and camps, and free or discounted admission to hundreds of science and children’s museum throughout the world. MembershipPlus levels also receive free Butterfly Rainforest admission.

Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens

Tea ceremonies, traditional festivals and a permanent collection make the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach a must-see. Membership at the Morikami gets you free admission to the Hatsume Fair, Oshogatsu and the not-to-be missed Bon Festival, which include taiko drumming, special presentations, kids' activities and Japanese food vendors. Members also snag an invite to an exclusive holiday sale at the Museum Store, get discounted rates for lectures and classes and earn free admission. A bonus: Summer Sushi & Stroll walks are also free for members.

The Dali Museum

Housing the most complete collection of the surrealist’s work, St. Petersburg’s Dalí museum features the Spanish artist’s oil paintings, as well as watercolors, sculptures, photographs and drawings. The museum offers free daily tours. An individual membership earns you unlimited admission, online store & museum discounts, and admittance to advance viewings. With membership, tickets to films and workshops are either free or discounted. Since the collection is rotated frequently, visits are never redundant.

The Jewish Museum of Florida in Miami Beach

The mission of recording and illustrating the Jewish experience in Florida since 1763 is both ambitious and fascinating. The centerpiece of this museum, located in Miami Beach, is its exhibit MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida, which features a Timeline Wall and hundreds of photographs, documents and archival items. There are films and at least two temporary exhibits to explore at all times. Basic family membership for $50 gives you free admission, store discounts, newsletters, invitations to exhibit openings, free or discounted access to programs and entrance to the research center. The $125 Donor status lets members benefit from a reciprocal agreement with other Jewish museums and the Time Travelers discount to more than 90 U.S. institutions.