Museums across the country will be offering active-duty military personnel and their families a vote of thanks with free admission from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

More than 1,600 museums, including the Gibbes Museum of Art, which hosted a special kick-off tour for Charleston families on Wednesday, are participating in an expanded Blue Star Museums initiative.

The program began in 2010 as a partnership between the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families and the Defense Department. Itís adding 300 new museums to the program this year.

Participating sites include art museums, history museums, science centers, nature centers and some 70 childrenís museums.

Reach Bill Thompson at 937-5707.