Experience the arts at free San Diego museums

Photo courtesy of richmbythesea/Flickr

We’ve just hit midterm week, and due to the strain that schoolwork can put on us, we sometimes need a good place to de-stress. Balboa Park is one of San Diego’s main attractions, both for residents and tourists alike, and is a fantastic area to get some fresh air and relax.

In addition to being a great place to walk around and enjoy the weather, the park is also home to numerous museums and art installations. If you haven’t checked out the museums yet, the wide range of art, photography, and exhibits are definitely worth a look. Balboa Park also hosts “Residents Free Days,” where residents can go to museums for free, typically on Tuesdays on a weekly basis.

Each week, three to four museums are usually available for San Diego residents free of charge with proof of residency. Some of the museums included are the San Diego Museum of Art, Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, Museum of Photographic Arts, and the San Diego Natural History Museum. If you aren’t a San Diego resident, most museums also offer student discounts, which help make taking a trip to the exhibits affordable. For example, a student ticket to the San Diego Museum of Art is $8, which is also roughly the same price as a Chipotle burrito. We can all sacrifice a burrito once in a while for the sake of the arts.

The museums offer a wide range of content to take in, and there are enough exhibits and galleries to see something new every week. Each with a different theme, the museums within Balboa Park are able to please just about everyone with their selection. Even if you aren’t big on museums, there’s likely at least one of them that you’d be interested in. Science, art, history, music, engineering, and countless other topics are covered in the museum selections, and there is plenty to be learned from visiting them.

The San Diego Museum of Art is San Diego’s collection of art from baroque to contemporary and everything in between. Originals by famed artists, such as Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh are rotated on display, and the museum also features modern art and sculptures from contemporary artists. The museum is located in the center of Balboa Park and is the oldest and most visited as well. It is a great place to relax, critique some art, and perhaps decide to become the next van Gogh.

The Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is perhaps the most kid-friendly out of all the museums, but that isn’t to say that adults would not have a good time there. It boasts countless interactive exhibits that focus on the principles of science and allows people to get hands-on experience. It features an IMAX theater, motion simulation ride, and planetarium. If you’d like to learn more about science and be able to fiddle with some gadgets in the process, the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center is for you.

The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) has an extensive collection of stills, videos, and feature-length films. Like the other art museums in Balboa, their collection dates back to the early days of photography up to the present era. The exhibits feature renowned photographers, such as Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams. The museum also includes a theater in which they show a wide range of films, usually with focus on film composition rather than typical movie plotlines. At over 32,000 square feet, MOPA certainly has a significant amount of content to take in. For anyone interested in photography, it is a must-see in San Diego.

The San Diego Natural History Museum collects and preserves specimens such as fossils, bones, and artifacts to study them and record information so that future generations may understand the world we currently inhabit. The museum places emphasis on San Diego as a region but also maintains a global perspective to science and the natural world. Though the museum is not the largest, it features a 3D movie theater, dinosaur displays, and exhibits on California geology. Perhaps the most locally-focused museum, the Natural History Museum is dear to the community and family-friendly.

Balboa Park seems to be one of the best places in San Diego for relaxing, and the numerous museums add to its value to the community. If you’re a San Diego resident and can take advantage of free museum Tuesdays, there really is no reason to avoid learning a bit more about the arts, science, and culture. If you’re a student, check out a museum on a weekend when you need a break from studying and take a nice stroll through the park. It’ll be a refreshing change of pace from Copley Library.   

Written by Walker Chuppe, Arts & Culture Editor