PITTSFIELD — Children younger than 18 will be able to visit the Berkshire Museum for free in 2020, thanks to fundraising at last week's gala, according to a statement from the museum.

The annual gala June 8 raised more than $300,000 to support the museum's education programs and expand free access for young visitors. The free programming, an initiative to honor board President Elizabeth "Buzz" McGraw, will begin in January, according to the statement from the museum.

"We are so grateful to the many supporters who are making it possible for us to give back to the community in such a powerful way," said museum Executive Director Jeff Rodgers in a prepared release. "And all of this in honor of Buzz McGraw who has worked so tirelessly to keep open the doors of this wonderful museum. There has been no stronger advocate for the Berkshire Museum."

This year, the museum welcomed all school groups free of charge, thanks to money raised at the museum's 2018 gala, combined with support from Greylock Federal Credit Union and the Beauregard Family. More than 260 classes from 80 schools across four states already have benefited from free admissions, and Greylock has committed to fund free school admissions for next year.

"The center of the Museum's mission is education which is so near and dear to me. I am so honored to be recognized in this way and thrilled that this wonderful museum will be even more accessible and more valuable to the young people of Berkshire County and this region," McGraw said in the release. "Everyone's generosity that evening was astounding and the support for the Berkshire Museum is stronger than ever. There is so much to learn and discover at the Berkshire Museum and now the youth in our community can return again and again in 2020."

Haven Orecchio-Egresitz can be reached at horecchio@berkshireeagle.com, @HavenEagle on Twitter and 413-770-6977.