LHS membership: is it worth it?

I’m a big fan of the Lawrence Hall of Science, and science museums in general, but is the price of membership really worth it? I wanted to evaluate what’s included and excluded in the membership dues and compare it to how many times my family would need to attend to break even.

Perks of membership:

  • Admission for one year
  • Discounts and priority registration for LHS classes, workshops and camps
  • Invitations to members-only openings and family events
  • 10% Discount at the LHS Discovery Store
  • Discounts on LHS children’s birthday parties
  • Free or reduced admission to more than 300 ASTC science centers and museums worldwide! (reciprocal membership is one of my favorite reasons for joining a museum)

At the basic level, you get all of the above perks. For some reason, we got the “family premium” membership (so we could bring along visiting grandparents), so our membership includes a few more goodies:

  • Up to four personalized member cards
  • Two additional guests anytime
  • One single-use six person pass
  • Four digital theater passes (don’t call me a planetarium!)
  • Free or reduced admission to over 130 children’s museums through the Association of Children’s Museums Reciprocal Network! (the upgraded membership gives FREE admission to the Bay Area Discovery Museum)
    ($125 of this is tax-deductible)

What membership doesn’t get you:

  • Free classes, camps, parties, workshops
  • Free parking all the time

The break-even point:

Regular admission costs $12.00 Adults (ages 19–61), $10.00 Children (ages 3–18; 62 plus) with under 3 admitted FREE. Our fancy membership now costs $135 and none of my children is free or particularly cheap. Gulp. With two adults and three kids under age 10, a single visit would run us $54 plus parking so we would need to visit the museum somewhere between 2 and 3 times in a year to get our value out of it, even sooner if we bring visiting grandparents!

When it’s not worth it:

Membership might not be a great idea if you have a best friend with fancy membership since they can invite guests for free. Other times when you might want to skip it: you have a young toddler (who’s already FREE), you have a membership to another reciprocal museum, or you’re just not that into awesome science.

[Photos by me; rate information updated 12/1/14]