These monthly free art experiences for all ages attract more than 300 visitors per month (3,600+ annually) on the second Friday of the month, from 4 to 8 p.m. The events feature “Hands-on!” art-making activities for adults with children ages 4 and above, as well as brief “Open Eyes” informal gallery conversations focusing on the museum's collection and special changing exhibitions. These discussions are led by museum education staff and based on the highly regarded approach to increasing visual literacy known as Visual Thinking Strategies. Several times each year, Second Fridays also include exhibition lectures by faculty or other experts and refreshments from the museum's café.
More than 3,300 elementary and secondary school students visited the museum in 2010–11, representing at least one class from every Northampton public school. The museum offers free admission to all school groups and SCMA member-sponsored bus subsidies to defray school transportation costs. Teachers who reserve a tour receive a curriculum guide with sample classroom activities for before and after the museum visit, including a selection of art images. In addition, each year about 100 teachers, most from Hampshire and Hampden counties, attended professional develoment programs offered by the museum’s Education Department.
More than a thousand parents and children took advantage of the museum’s free Family Days, with materials in Spanish and English.
Anyone with a library card can visit the museum for free by checking out a pass from Forbes or Lilly library. (Additional area libraries may purchase a Visitors’ SCMA Community Pass through the museum’s Membership Office: firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-585-2777.)