Student IDs are a free pass to Pittsburgh culture

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently reported that the Carnegie Museum of Natural History will raise prices of admission upward of 80 percent when it opens its new dinosaur exhibit, “Dinosaurs in Their Time,” this November.

This price increase means visitors will have to shell out an additional five bucks to see the exhibit, touted as the world’s third-largest collection of dinosaur bones in new, more accurate, poses.

But don’t pull out your wallets just yet, Carnegie Mellon students. A simple swipe of your university ID card will grant you free access to the collection, along with various other cultural sites.

But all of that means nothing, unless you take advantage of the free opportunities. Students should use their ID cards for more than just bus rides to Squirrel Hill and Plaid Ca$h.

If you think you can’t take time from a rigorous academic schedule, take into account that visiting these places is as much of an educational experience as any lecture. Phipps Conservatory, the Mattress Factory, Carnegie Museum of Art — all for zilch, zero, zip dollars.

Gallery crawls are held at least once each season, where students and the general public can hop from gallery to gallery downtown — all for the convenient price of zero dollars. Not bad for an all-evening event; you may be surprised at the number of art galleries located downtown. All it takes is a quick hop on a downtown-headed bus (free with your ID, of course).

For anyone who thought Pittsburgh was just a smog-filled city where the decomposing skeletons of steel mills loom in the skyline, think again. While the mills may be as aged as the dinosaur fossils in the Carnegie, Pittsburgh has a vibrant array of cultural activities, all at your fingertips. And, at the risk of repeating ourselves, it’s just a swipe of your ID away. Take advantage of it.