February may be the shortest month of the year, but it’s loaded with holidays and monthlong events like Groundhog Day, Black History Month, Valentine’s Day and even National Love Your Pet Day.
And in San Diego, February is also known as Museum Month, a time when more than 40 museums throughout the region offer half-price admission. Last year, more than 30,000 ticket-buyers took advantage of the savings.
For the first time in Museum Month history, the San Diego Museum Council is partnering with dozens of San Diego libraries, a partnership that offers locals and out-of-towners more accessibility to the Museum Month passes via these points of destination. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Museum Month.
“Thanks to our new library partners, more than 80 new doors are opening across the region — from San Ysidro to San Marcos and from the beach communities to Borrego Springs,” said Nicole Miller-Coleman, the new executive director of the San Diego Museum Council. “The Museum Month pass is available to anyone who requests it at a library counter. There is no cost and you don’t need to be a library card holder. Many of our library partners have museums in their respective neighborhoods, or (are) a short drive or bus ride away.
“For many years, Macy’s served as the title sponsor and distribution partner of Museum Month. Although this changed in 2019, we are proud they helped build the program into what it is today — a program that is now recognized and modeled across the nation.”
Miller-Coleman said that Museum Month also serves as an opportunity to shine a spotlight on regional museums.
“San Diego is known for beaches, beautiful weather and tourist attractions with big name recognition, but it’s also home to museums and cultural experiences that can’t be found anywhere else. We want to instill a love for these institutions in residents and encourage visitors to San Diego to invest time in discovering these gems.
“By offering half-price admission, Museum Month is actively reducing the barrier to museum access and the learning and joy that comes from exploring these museums.”
With so many options, where do you begin? Here are some places waiting to be discovered.
Adobe Chapel Museum, Balboa Park
Originally built as a home in 1850, it was later converted to a church by Don José Aguirre, a merchant and rancher, in 1858. It was bulldozed for street realignment in the 1930s, only to be rebuilt by the WPA (Works Progress Administration) in 1937. Much of the interior artifacts from the original chapel remained, including the tabernacle, the altar with its marbleized finish, some pews and doors, and Aguirre's tombstone, which is laid in the floor. Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. 3963 Conde St., San Diego. (619) 297-9327. bit.ly/2R97qjb
Barona Cultural Center & Museum, Lakeside
On loan from the San Diego Museum of Man in Balboa Park, visitors will have the opportunity to view a never-before-seen exhibit, “A Visit From Old Friends,” as well as Kumeyaay/Diegueño artifacts, including rattlesnake baskets, an oil painting of Rosa Lopez and a hopper mortar. Currently on display. Noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday -Friday; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. 1095 Barona Road, Lakeside. (619) 443-7003, Ext. 219. baronamuseum.org
Bonita Museum & Cultural Center, Bonita
This South Bay find features about 830 artifacts, 1,188 historic photographs, 203 books and periodicals, and 119 artworks by local artists, including “The Art of Animal Sculptures,” and 40 sculptures by Mark Edward Adams, D.L. Engle, Mehl Lawson and Adam Matano. Through March 16. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. 4355 Bonita Road, Bonita. (619) 267-5141. bonitahistoricalsociety.org
La Jolla Historical Society, La Jolla
“Tangible Memories: Recollections of La Jolla Pioneer Women” is the life and history of 10 women pioneers examined and artistically interpreted by 10 female contemporary artists through paintings, photographs, sculptures, or interactive installations. Opens Feb. 9. Noon to 4 p.m. Wednesday-Sunday. Wisteria Cottage, 780 Prospect St., La Jolla. (858) 459-5335. lajollahistory.org
Museum of Making Music, Carlsbad
This interactive museum tells the history of American instruments from the early 1900s to today. “Accordions: Expanding Voices in the USA” explores the current state of the accordion’s popularity as told through stories and recordings. You can even play one, too. Through Aug. 31. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday: 5790 Armada Drive, Carlsbad. (760) 438-5996. museumofmakingmusic.org
Museum of Photographic Arts, Balboa Park
Photography buffs will have a field day with the current exhibition, “Irving Penn: Beyond Beauty.” One of the foremost photographers of the 20th century, his work ranges from Depression-era scenes and celebrity portraits to fashion photographs and still lifes. Through Feb. 17. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (8 p.m. during summer). 1649 El Prado, San Diego. (619) 238-7559. mopa.org
San Diego Natural History Museum, Balboa Park
In the Atrium, as part of “Fossil Mysteries,” hangs a replica of an extinct Megalodon, (big tooth) shark modeled from and inspired by teeth collected from Miocene sandstones in Oceanside and near Ensenada. A close cousin of today’s Great White shark, scientists think it may have grown as long as 50 feet and weighed as much as 50 tons. It’s become one of the best selfie spots in the museum. Currently on display. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. 1788 El Prado, San Diego. (619) 232-3821. sdnhm.org
Visions Art Museum, Point Loma
“Playing with a Full Deck” is an iconic collection of 54 contemporary art quilts by American textile artists, shown for only the second time at the museum. Originating in 1995 as an exhibition at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute, the quilt began traveling nationwide for a number of years. Through April 7. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. 2825 Dewey Road, Suite 100, San Diego. (619) 546-4872. visionsartmuseum.org
When: Friday through Feb. 28.
Where: More than 40 museums throughout San Diego County.
Tickets: Museum-goers can pick up their Museum Month pass, while supplies last, at more than 80 branch locations or bookmobiles of the San Diego County Library, San Diego Public Library, Carlsbad City Library, Escondido Public Library, Oceanside Public Library, Coronado Public Library, Chula Vista Public Library and National City Public Library.
Online: For a list of participating museums and libraries, visit sandiegomuseumcouncil.org