The Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave., is one of 15 museums you can get into free with Pima County Library's Culture Pass. 

Ron Medvescek / Arizona Daily Star

They call them Culture Passes. 

But with winter break and a house full of stir-crazy kids fast approaching, we call them your tickets to sanity. 

Turns out the Pima County Public Library offers free passes to nine top-notch museums in town, plus six venues in Phoenix and Sedona.

We just thought you should know. 

If you have a library card, you can get a Culture Pass, which includes admission for two to a participating institution. You can only hold one Culture Pass at a time and only check out two per month. So you might have to wait your turn. 

But still. It's a deal. 

This month, the library added the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures and the Museum of Contemporary Art Tucson (MOCA) to its roster. 

Here's how it works. Eleven participating libraries have two passes available each week. Those are doled out on a first-come, first-served basis. You need to come into the library to check them out and you can't place holds. The library recommends calling its info line at 791-4010 to see if your nearest branch has a pass available. Click here to see which passes are currently available. You can also search "culture pass" in the library catalog and filter by 3D object. 


The Tucson Botanical Gardens participates in the Culture Pass program. 

A kiosk in the front of most libraries has the available passes. It's a voucher you check out from the front desk. You can visit once within seven days of checking out the pass, said Holly Schaffer, the community relations manager for the Pima County Library System.  

Schaffer adds that the tickets are subject to venue limitations and are only good for general admission, not specific exhibits. You should check with the organization you're interested in visiting to see what the pass will get you into. 

Remember the "free" part of all of this. 

The program is facilitated by Act One, an Arizona nonprofit that seeks to make the arts more accessible to children and families. 

"This can have a huge impact on children, families and older adults by really making the focus on equitable access," Schaffer says. "You have research showing the importance of the arts, but there are a lot of barriers ... This program is literally and figuratively opening doors."

You can also get free tickets to cultural performances by organizations such UA Presents or the Arizona Opera, but these require a bit more work to nab. 

The Joel D. Valdez Main Library is the only library where you can pick up these Performance Passes. Again, one pass equals two admissions to the performance, but to find these you need to regularly search "performance pass" in the library catalog. Arts organizations can choose to release extra tickets to the library about two weeks before a show. You can find available passes here. 

For more information about how all of that works, go here


Composer Craig Bohmler and librettist Steven Mark Kohn work on “Riders of the Purple Sage,” the first Western opera based on the famous Zane Grey novel of the same name.

If your New Year's resolution is to bring a little more culture into your life (or you just need something to do with the visiting relatives), you can check out Tucson's finest on the cheap. 

Here's the list of libraries where you can pick up a Culture Pass. 

And these are the participating museums. 

Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (April–October only), 2021 N. Kinney Road

Jewish History Museum (closed June–August), 564 S. Stone Ave

Or venture beyond Tucson. 

Go here for more information about the Culture Pass program.