A bribe of passion

The DMA's Friends program will turn you into an art lover, one badge at a time

The DMA's Friends program will turn you into an art lover, one badge at a time

Dallas Museum of Art
If you're one of those people who thought that art museums were too inaccessible or not fun enough, your excuses are about to come to an end. Photo courtesy of Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Museum of Art, DMA Friends program
DMA Friends program has 40 different badges, including Ringleader and All-American.  Photo by Alex Bentley
Dallas Museum of Art, DMA Friends program
DMA Friend members enter codes — either at a kiosk or via text —  to accumulate points and earn rewards. Photo by Alex Bentley
Dallas Museum of Art
Dallas Museum of Art, DMA Friends program
Dallas Museum of Art, DMA Friends program

For lovers of the arts, the Dallas Museum of Art has long been a go-to destination for culture in the city, even before the Dallas Arts District became the force that it is today. But if you're one of those people who thought that art museums were too inaccessible or not fun enough, your excuses are about to come to an end.

On January 21, the museum officially returns to free general admission and launches its DMA Friends & Partners membership program. Although free admission is a welcome change from the policy of most museums, the key is actually the free DMA Friends program, which aims to engage visitors in the museum's artwork in a new and exciting way.

 The reward system starts at 500 points and has 20 different prizes, ranging from museum cafe discounts to your own late-night private tour. 

Every visitor will have the opportunity to sign up for DMA Friends at one of a handful of iPad-equipped kiosks at the museum's entrances.

Once you're a member, you can enter codes — either at a kiosk or via text — posted at the entrances of every gallery that earn you special badges that accumulate points you can use for various rewards. You can also get badges for volunteering or attending a special DMA event.

The program currently has 40 different badges. For instance, "Ringleader" gives you a bonus for bringing three people to the museum, and "All-American" rewards you for visiting galleries showcasing artwork from around the Americas. Most badges come with 200-300 points, although the harder-to-get badges give you more.

The reward system starts at 500 points and currently has 20 different prizes, ranging from museum cafe discounts to your own late-night private tour.

Museum officials expect that the program will give them insight into what does and doesn't work at the museum, as well as what exhibits attract the most people. They also hope it will allow them to be flexible in responding to guests' needs, like sending a tour guide to a gallery that's being viewed by a significant number of people.

If you're wondering if all of these free offerings will affect the DMA's ability to offer the variety of art it currently does, fret not. Museum director Maxwell L. Anderson says that admission fees only accounted for around 4 percent of the museum's revenue, a gap that they anticipate will be made up through philanthropic efforts and the museum's Partners program, where people can get extra membership benefits at levels ranging from $100-$25,000.