Best Museums in San Diego, California (V)

Tag: San Diego

Best Museums in San Diego, California (V)

Best Museums in San Diego, California: Marston House Museum – Arts and Crafts treasure


This 16-room Arts and Crafts showplace on the edge of Balboa Park was once the home of George and Anna Marston and their five children. 


George W. Marston was a tireless civic leader and founder of The Marston Company, once this city’s premier department store. He commissioned renowned local architects Irving John Gill and William Sterling Hebbard to design and build the home in 1905. 


The home’s exterior exemplifies the English Tudor intent of its original design and the “form follows function” philosophy of the Craftsman period. The interior features spacious hallways juxtaposed with close, intimate living areas that evoke the “hearth and home” aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts Movement. Rooms are furnished with Mission-style pieces, including some designed by Gustav, Leopold and John George Stickley, plus decorative pottery, paintings, and textiles created by top Craftsman-era artisans.


Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 8,500-square-foot home sits on five acres of rolling lawn and manicured formal gardens. 

The Save Our Heritage Organisation, which operates the museum, offers tours every half hour; they run about 45 minutes.



Best Museums in San Diego, California: Mingei International Museum – Folk art, crafts & design


To create the word mingei, Japanese scholar Dr. Sōetsu Yanagi combined the words for all people (min) and art (gei). That’s exactly what visitors find at the Mingei – contemporary and historic folk art from cultures all over the world. 


Opened in 1978, the museum’s collection and changing exhibitions showcase creative expression from renowned designers as well as from unknown crafters. More than 140 countries are represented. Works range from ancient clay vessels to 21st century couture. Visitors will find textiles, utensils, jewelry, ceremonial objects, musical instruments, containers, tools, housewares, dolls and toys.


Exhibitions are often accompanied by related lectures, films, demonstrations, music, theater and/or dance. Free docent-led tours begin at 2 PM daily.


Best Museums in San Diego, California (IV)

Best Museums in San Diego, California: MCASD Downtown – Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


The La Jolla-based Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego first established a presence downtown in 1986 when it opened a small satellite gallery in a warehouse at 8th and G streets. In 1993, it moved to larger quarters on Kettner Boulevard, across from the Santa Fe Depot. Within a few years, the museum expanded into the historic train station’s baggage building and in 2007, it added an adjacent three-story structure – giving the museum’s downtown branch even more exhibit space than the mother ship in La Jolla.


Downtown exhibitions usually focus on young regional artists on the cutting edge. Its TNT (Thursday Night Thing) is a quarterly bash that includes live music, artist talks, art-making activities, interactive performances inspired by new exhibitions, food and drink. It’s a popular venue for singles interested in meeting like-minded singles. (Admission costs $10, $7 for students.)



Best Museums in San Diego, California: MCASD La Jolla – Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


It seems fitting that the former estate of newspaper heiress and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps has evolved into the cultural centerpiece of La Jolla. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego traces its history to 1941 when a group of local artist began exhibiting their work in the Scripps house. Eventually, money was raised to purchase the home and turn its rooms into galleries. 


Over the years, the museum has been expanded, remodeled, redefined and renamed several times. Today its permanent collection spans all contemporary art movements since 1950 and includes works by Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Frank Sella, Edward Ruscha, Richard Serra, John Baldessari, Jasper Johns and Nancy Rubins. The collection has particular strength in the art of Southern California, Latin America and border regions. 


The museum stages a variety of talks, tours, and other events including a film series. The Museum Café is open from 11 AM – 3 PM weekdays, from 9 AM – 3 PM weekends. The MCASD X Store sells contemporary jewelry and chic design objects for the home – as well as apparel, books, posters and toys.


Best Museums in San Diego, California (III)

Best Museums in San Diego, California: Natural History Museum – Connect with nature


Founded in 1874, The San Diego Natural History Museum didn’t have a permanent setting for its collection until 1933. Since then it has expanded its focus and more than doubled its size. 


Today the museum is dedicated to promoting understanding and respect for the evolution and diversity of the entire Southern California region and the Baja Peninsula. Its award-winning exhibits are complemented by a 300-seat giant screen 3-D theater that shows films focusing on the natural world. In addition, the museum hosts several traveling exhibitions each year. There’s a Kids’ Habitat where youngsters can have fun with interactive games – and on Sundays, Mr. Frizzle presents free “Wacky Science” shows designed for junior scientists. 


The museum has a gift shop and the Dinosaur Café, which is open from 10 AM to 4 PM Thursdays through Sundays. Check online for admission discount coupons.



Best Museums in San Diego, California: San Diego History Center – Uncover San Diego's past


Founded in 1928, the city’s premier historical organization achieved a decades long dream in 1989 when it opened the San Diego History Center in the heart of Balboa Park. The center showcases the region’s colorful and diverse history – and it serves as a repository for the group’s collection of more than 45 million pieces of paper and 2.5 million photos that document the people, places and events of the city’s past.


Exhibits rotate: Visitors might view paintings by San Diego’s most celebrated artists. They might see costumes worn by actors at The Old Globe during its 75-year history, learn about San Diego's once-booming tuna fishing industry or drink in all there is to know about the history of the city's colorful craft beer brewers. For an additional $6 fee, visitors can tap into local genealogy and historic photos in the research library (open till 1 PM Mondays through Fridays). 


Don’t skip the center’s store. Find cool reproductions of Arts and Crafts and Deco-era furnishings.


Best Museums in San Diego, California (II)

Best Museums in San Diego, California: La Casa de Estudillo – Historic landmark / free museum


Captain Jose Maria de Estudillo, the commander of the San Diego presidio, built this adobe home for his family in 1827. When he died in 1830, the house passed to his son, Jose Antonio Estudillo, who served as revenue collector, treasurer, alcalde, and judge under Mexican rule and later treasurer and assessor of San Diego County under American rule. He died in 1852, but his family lived here until 1887, when the home steadily fell to near ruin. 


Restored in 1910, the U-shaped Spanish Colonial style adobe has 13 rooms connected only by an external covered walkway, surrounding a courtyard garden. The casa is topped with a cupola from which the family could watch bullfights and festivals in the adjacent plaza. 


The National Society of Colonial Dames of America helped furnish the casa’s rooms as they would have appeared in Estudillo’s day. On Wednesdays, members of the Old Town Historic Quilt Guild dress in period costumes for a sewing circle overlooking the courtyard.


The home as a spot on the National Register of Historic Places – and a good number of fans believe it's haunted.



Best Museums in San Diego, California: Liberty Station – Former Naval Training Center


In 1923, San Diego’s Naval Training Center was dedicated. Over the years, it turned nearly 2 million boys into men — sailors who made San Diego the home base for the Navy’s Pacific Fleet. 


When the Navy closed the base in 1997, a master developer went to work transforming the 361-acre site into a massive mixed-use neighborhood. While the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it remains a work in progress.


More than 50 of NTC’s original Spanish Colonial Revival buildings have been restored and transformed into performance spaces, artists’ studios, galleries, fitness salons, shops, grocery stores and restaurants – including Con Pane, Fig Tree Café, Corvette Diner and Stone Brewing World Bistro. The neighborhood also includes a residential district, office space, schools, churches, two hotels (Homewood Suites and Courtyard by Marriott), and nearly 50 acres of park/open space along a boat channel that leads to San Diego Bay. The community’s parks have become a popular venue for special events and ethnic festivals. Seasonal kayak and paddleboard rentals are offered. 


One of the best ways to experience Liberty Station is with a free audio tour. Stop by the visitor center (the former Command Center) to pick up a map. Then call 619-342-8021 on your cell phone, enter a number from the map and hit the # key. 


Another great option: Attend Friday Night Liberty, beginning at 5 PM on the first Friday of each month. It’s an opportunity to visit galleries and performance venues for free and meet artists at work in their studios.


There’s plenty of free parking throughout the area.


Best Museums in San Diego, California (I)

Best Museums to Visit in San Diego, California: Air & Space Museum


Aviation buffs will find everything from human-propelled planes salvaged from the dawn of aviation to the command module from the Apollo 9 Space flight in this cavernous museum. Among aircraft displayed are a Trimotor 5-AT produced by the Ford Motor Company in the 1920s and a number of meticulously restored military aircraft, including the folding-wing Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat from World War II. 


The museum commemorates the men and women who forged aviation history, including Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. (The bright red Lockheed Vega 5-B used in the 2009 movie “Amelia” is now part of the museum’s collection.) 


There’s a 3D / 4D theater that features action-themed films and a kids-only “Aviation Hangar” with interactive activities for preschoolers and older kids who might get a charge out of testing their skills at a flight simulator.



Best Museums to Visit in San Diego, California: Children's Museum


The New Children's Museum, which opened in Spring 2008, is a 50,000-square-foot three-level contemporary showpiece designed by San Diego architect Rob Quigley — the third incarnation of a museum that started in La Jolla in 1983. 


There's really something for kids of all ages here — from a padded romper room for crawlers to messy hands-on art-making projects for older kids. There’s stuff to ride, climb, run around and splash in. Kids have fun building, painting, sculpting, experimenting, and playing while they learn. You'll hear no complaints from parents, sitting and chatting, grabbing a bite at the museum cafe — or joining a family dance jam. 


Visit on the second Sunday of each month and admission is free for all, thanks to Target, with extended hours from 10 AM until 4 PM.



Best Museums to Visit in San Diego, California: Hall of Champions


The San Diego Hall of Champions is the nation’s largest multi-sport museum. It spans nearly 70,000 square feet on three levels of the Federal Building constructed for the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park.


The museum honors athletes from or made famous in San Diego; more than 40 sports are represented. See exhibits depicting local sports heroes including baseball great Ted Williams, America’s Cup sailor Dennis Conner, golfer Billy Casper, swimmer Florence Chadwick, skateboarder Tony Hawk, boxer Ken Norton and basketball’s Bill Walton. 


There’s a state-of-the-art theater, where visitors can relive great moments in sports history. An interactive media center allows visitors to become play-by-play sports commentators. Grab a deli sandwich or salad at the museum's Home Plate Bar & Grill.