San Diego Museum Month: Something for every interest

San Diego Museum Council’s annual program offers half-off admission at 42 cultural institutions in 44 locations countywide


If it’s February, it must be Museum Month.

Starting Saturday, the San Diego Museum Council’s popular museum-hopping program, returns for its 31st year of offering local and out-of-town guests half-off admission to more than 40 San Diego member museums and attractions. Last year, more than 25,000 ticket-buyers took advantage of the savings.

Through this program, which continues through Feb. 29, San Diego has become a cultural destination where everyone — no matter their interests — can expand their knowledge and understanding of the ever-evolving art world at institutions like the historical naval aircraft carrier USS Midway Museum and the Museum of Making Music in Carlsbad.

“San Diego is about more than beaches and big-name tourist attractions,” said Nicole Miller-Coleman, executive director of the San Diego Museum Council. “We believe everyone deserves rich and diverse museum experiences. Thanks to the partners who support this unparalleled community access program, including Hilton Hotels and regional public libraries, those experiences are more tangible than ever.

“Whether you’re a local or just visiting, San Diego Museum Month is the perfect time to discover 42 more reasons to love San Diego.”

A supporter of the program for the past three years, Hilton Hotels is again participating in the program. Guests can pick up their free Museum Month passes at check-in.

“San Diego is an incredible arts and culture destination that deserves the spotlight,” said Beth Caulfield, senior director of Destination Marketing at Hilton.

With so many options, where do you begin? Here are some suggestions:

California Surf Museum, Oceanside

“Courageous Inspiration: Bethany Hamilton” is an exhibit that tells the story of the fateful Halloween day in 2003 when Hamilton lost her left arm to a Tiger shark attack while surfing at Tunnels Beach on Kauai. The exhibit includes the surfboard she was riding, the bathing suit she was wearing, several photographs and newspaper clippings, and the documentary “Heart of a Soul Surfer.” Currently on display. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday and Saturday-Sunday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. 312 Pier View Way, Oceanside. (760) 721-6876.

Coronado Museum

This March 17, 1973 file photo shows released prisoner of war Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm being greeted by his family at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif.
This March 17, 1973 file photo shows released prisoner of war Lt. Col. Robert L. Stirm being greeted by his family at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif.
(Associated Press)

With deep and moving connections to Coronado and San Diego, “The League of Wives: Vietnam’s POW/MIA Allies & Advocates” tells the story of the military wives who founded the organization that would later become the National League of POW/MIA Families. Currently on display. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Sunday. 1100 Orange Ave., Coronado. (619) 435-7242.

Museum of Contemporary Art, downtown San Diego

“México quiero conocerte: Photographs by Graciela Iturbide and Manuel Álvarez Bravo” explores the intimate connection each photographer had to capturing aspects and ideas of Mexico. Through March 15. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily; closed Wednesday. 1100 Kettner Blvd., San Diego. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday-Sunday. 1001 Kettner Blvd., San Diego. (858) 454-3541.

San Diego Art Institute, Balboa Park

“Illumination: 21st Century Interactions with Art + Science + Technology” is an experiential show depicting individual perspectives and personal points of view to 21st century challenges using mediums ranging from light, sound, and metal installations to soundscape, textile, and even trees. Opens Feb. 8. Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday. Balboa Park, 1439 El Prado, San Diego. (619) 236-0011.

San Diego Natural History Museum, Balboa Park

The world we live in is an amazing place, and nature is the biggest exhibition of all. Join the History Museum’s screenings of “Dinosaurs of Antarctica 3D” and “Museum Alive 3D.” Open Feb. 17. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 1788 El Prado, San Diego. (619) 232-3821.

San Diego Museum Month

When: Feb. 1-29

Where: More than 40 participating museums throughout San Diego County

Tickets: Free passes are available at over 75 public libraries throughout San Diego County, including branches managed by the San Diego County Library, San Diego Public Library, Carlsbad City Library, Chula Vista Public Library, Coronado Public Library, Escondido Public Library, National City Public Library and Oceanside Public Library, and at participating Hilton properties and Macy’s store locations. Each pass is good for up to four half-priced admissions. Guests can use the pass to visit as many museums that they can fit into the 29-day program. There may be additional fees for special exhibitions and events at some museums.

Online: For a list of participating museums, visit