DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – For more than a decade, the public has paid between $5 and $10 to enjoy the exhibits at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) – but that will soon be changing. Tuesday DMA officials announced a return to free general admission.

DMA leaders say having access to the more than 22,000 works, spanning thousands of years, should be something that anyone interested can have access to.

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“We believe that by increasing access to the Museum and by finding new ways to say ‘thank you,’ we can fundamentally change the role museums play in a global society,” Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art, said in a press release statement.

In addition to tending the charge for museum admission, the DMA is also instituting two separate membership programs meant to “build long-term relationships with visitors.”

The DMA Friends program will be a free membership open to everyone visiting the museum. Members will earn ‘credit’ for visiting the museum, participating in local art events, and sharing their experiences. Credits can be used for rewards at the DMA.

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The DMA Partners program is a paid membership that will be available to individuals, corporations, and foundations. While there are benefits for being a member, DMA officials say the Partners philanthropic involvements will, “enables the Museum to provide free admission and membership to the community at large.”

In-person and online interaction will also be encouraged through the new programs. “As part of our new approach to visitor engagement, we want to provide our audiences with enhanced ways to feel connected to the Museum and to share their opinions with us and each other,” DMA Deputy Director Rob Stein said.

The changes in DMA admission and membership will begin on January 21, 2013. On occasion, museum officials say, there will be a fee charged for special exhibitions and events. Organizers say the money will be used to cover additional costs and expenses.

Each year the DMA welcomes more than half a million visitors.

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