Open Arms Accessibility Initiative

At the heart of Stepping Stones Museum for Children is an unwavering commitment to inclusion. From its earliest planning stages, the museum identified providing access for EVERY child as a key goal. Stepping Stones is an inviting, welcoming and diverse learning community that values and celebrates all children and families for their similarities and uniqueness, broad-ranging abilities, experiences, interests, needs and perspectives.

The museum’s Open Arms accessibility initiative was created in 2000 to make it possible for every child, family and school to have access to the museum and its educational benefits.  To date, more than 1.1 million people have been to receive meaningful, play-based Stepping Stones learning experiences thanks to Open Arms.

Through this mission-critical endeavor, Stepping Stones is able to offer accessibility benefits like year-round admission for active-duty military families through the Blue Star Museums program, reduced-admission for Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cardholders through the Museums for All program, free kindergarten readiness summer experiences for children ages 3 –5 through Camp ELLI and a host of important and engaging educational opportunities for children, families, Title 1 schools and community partners.

Open Arms would not be possible without the incredible generosity of museum supporters and the innovative and sustained involvement of our remarkable community partners. More than $1 million is raised to support Open Arms programs annually.

If you or your organization would like to participate or have any questions about our Open Arms programs, please email

children outside blowing large bubbles
Little girl and mother working on an art project together

Stepping Stones has great programs for everyone!

Open Arms Accessibility Initiative for Families

Families can take advantage of the great exhibits, events and experiences Stepping Stones has to offer without worrying about the cost.


Next Event: Friday, December 2
5:00 – 8:00 pm

The museum stays open late with free admission for ALL visitors and fun activities.

Blue Star Museums

Stepping Stones is a participant of Blue Star Museums, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in collaboration with Blue Star Families and the U.S. Department of Defense.

Through Blue Star Museums, active-duty military members and their families receive free admission at participating museums from Armed Forces Day through Labor Day. However, thanks to tremendous local support, Stepping Stones proudly offers free admission for those families all year long. Thank you for your service!

Museums for All

Stepping Stones was the first institution in Connecticut to join Museums for All, a signature access program of the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to encourage families of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum habits.

Through Museums for All, Stepping Stones visitors presenting an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and a valid form of photo ID will pay a $3 per person admission fee. The discounted rate, which is only valid during normal operating hours, applies for up to four (4) people per card, per visit.*

Stepping Stones cannot process EBT transactions. The EBT card will simply be used to identify visitors as qualifiers for the Museums for All discount.

 *The special Museums for All rate does not apply for special events and fee-based activities.