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Your Guide to Museum Month in North County San Diego

Your Guide to Museum Month in North County San Diego

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In San Diego County, February is the month to get out and explore local museums and gardens, at a fraction of the price of admission. Historically, February is one of the slowest months for museum patronage in San Diego County. To offset that, Macy’s and the San Diego Museum Council have partnered to create Macy’s Museum Month. Enjoy Half Off Admission to over 40+ museums in San Diego County.

To receive the discount, head to a local Macy’s and pick-up the free passes. Participating museums are located all over San Diego County, and include some of our very own locations up North. Now is the perfect time to explore locally or venture out on day trips.

North County Macy’s Locations:

Lux Art Institute

The Lux Art Institute is redefining what we think of as a museum. Lux aims to engage the community by showing the artistic process firsthand. Not only does Lux Art Institute feature local artists, it hosts a unique residency program for internationally recognized artists. Throughout the residency, the artist will live and work at the Institute, create original pieces, teach classes and engage with the community.

Throughout the residency, the Artists Pavilion is open to the public to watch the featured artists creative process. For adults, the cost is only $5 (21 and under: free, 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult). The Education Pavilion features rotating work by local artists and admission is always free. Trained Lux Liaisons are available to the general public during operating hours, and can also be reserved for larger groups.  The artist-in-residence, as well as local artists, also provide classes throughout the month for kids, teens, and adults.

During Macy’s Museum Month the Lux’s artist-in-residence will be New Zealand born Francis Upritchard. Now based out of London, Upritchard has represented New Zealand in the 2009 Venice Biennial and has since shown all over the world. During her residency, she plans to use the grounds as inspiration for watercolors, which will be translated into sculptural works. Upritchard is in the studio from January 27-February 23, and her work will be shown in the gallery from 2018 January 27-March 23.

The San Diego Botanic Garden

The  Botanic Garden in Encinitas is an urban oasis. Located on 37 acres, you can explore the grounds time and time again and still find new surprises and hidden nooks.  Not only is the garden filled with plants, there are sculptures located across the grounds from regional artists.

The Botanic Gardens also has two children’s areas: The Seeds of Wonder and The Hamilton Children’s Garden. The Seeds of Wonder is located to the south of the main parking lot and is geared towards younger children. The area has small trails to explore with sculptures and hands-on activities. There is also a small playhouse with books and a play kitchen, a train set that moves with buttons and a water play area. On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays at 10 am the Seeds of Wonder hosts various activities for kids under 6 years old. These activities include storytimes, songs, arts and crafts, plant potting and train lessons! The Seeds of Wonder Area is also available for birthday parties. The Hamilton Children’s Garden is located at the Northeast corner of the Garden. It is a bit of a walk from the main parking area (with one big hill), so if you have smaller children, a stroller or wagon is recommended. The Children’s Garden is a maze with a new activity around every corner, and in the center is a giant tree house! You will also find a musical garden, a vegetable garden (where you can plant and take home a succulent), a water play stream, an art area and more.

During Macy’s Museum month the Botanic Gardens will be displaying hand-woven, garden themed tapestries from the Ramses Wissa Wassef Art Center in Giza, Egypt. Available for purchase, the tapestries have garden themes and take a year (or two) to complete. Admission to the Tapestry exhibit is included with admission to the Gardens.

Museum of Making Music

The Museum of Making Music is fun, educational and interactive. The exhibits are hands-on and inspire visitors to unfold the history of musical instruments, and the products used to bring those instruments to stage, radio, and recordings. The museum not only hosts permanent and special exhibits, it also has a regular concert series. At the museum instruments take center stage, the core exhibits explore how and why the instruments develop, who makes them, how they sound, and how they feel in your own hands!

The current exhibit, The Floating Strings, features the unique instrument, The Harp Guitar. The exhibit will present over 40 examples of the unique instrument and will traverse its history, from its origination in Europe to its current use in the United States today.

The Miniature Engineering and Craftsmanship Museum

For those interested in model building, the Miniature Engineering Craftsmanship Museum features hundreds of small and miniature metalworking projects. The museum houses models of cars, planes, small working machines, clocks and more. The facility also includes a well-equipped machine shop manned by volunteer craftsmen, which allows visitors to watch machinists at work. Featuring collections from: model makers, model engineers, miniature gunsmiths, precision jewelers, metalworkers, miniature combustion engineers, engravers, watch and clock makers, the museum has become a gathering place for craftsman of all types.

California Surf Museum

Surf culture is celebrated at Oceanside’s California Surf Museum. Founded in 1986, permanent exhibits include a History of Surfboards, Surfing Found in Pop Culture, and educational displays about the ocean. The Surf Museum is also fortunate enough to have acquired rare sets of archives and collections, gathered for over 30 years, that celebrate surfing history.

The featured exhibit is China Beach: Surfing During the Vietnam War and the Healing Power of Wave Riding. The ground-breaking exhibit has recreated the China Beach lifeguard station and surf club from 1967. Photos, surfboards, memorabilia and first-hand accounts of veterans paint the picture of what it was like to surf during the Vietnam War. The China Beach Surf Club provided a much-needed haven of rest, relaxation and surfing that became a reminder of home to many servicemen.

The California Surf Museum’s most popular exhibit is a must-see. Courageous Inspiration: Bethany Hamilton, tells the story of how Bethany survived a shark attack, at the age of 13, that resulted in the loss of one of her arms. The display includes her bathing suit and the board she was riding (with a very big chunk bitten out of it). Her story is especially resonating, because instead of leaving the sport, Bethany was determined to continue surfing, and paddled out just 3 weeks after the attack. Since then, Bethany has returned to competitive surfing and is an excellent role model, teaching people of all ages to never give up on dreams, no matter what the challenge.

Oceanside Museum of Art

With a view of the Oceanside Pier and the Pacific Ocean, the Oceanside Museum of Art celebrates art through engagement, education, and innovation. The museum hosts revolving contemporary art exhibits and provide classes, lectures, concerts, docent tours and community events. The Oceanside Museum of Art is also available for event rental.

For Disney fans, The Oceanside Museum currently has an exhibit celebrating Rolly Crump. Rolly Crump: It’s Kind of a Cute Story highlights Crump’s 65-year career as a member of Walt Disney’s hand-picked Disneyland design team. Crump’s whimsical designs have made attractions such as It’s a Small World, The Enchanted Tiki Room and The Haunted Mansion iconic. The exhibit features spinning propellers, marching toys, living clocks, talking tikis and enough magic, humor, and inspiration to bring smiles at every turn.

San Diego Archaeological Center

Archaeology studies human culture by recovering artifacts and trying to understand what they were used for. The San Diego Archaeological Center focuses on regional artifacts to tell the history of the people of San Diego and find common ground in our humanity. The exhibits feature tools dating back 10,000 years. Not only does the Center feature San Diego archaeology, it has several interactive exhibits aimed towards children. The Archaeology Quest is a sort of scavenger hunt that keeps kids engaged throughout the space. Shipwreck: Underwater Excavation, teaches underwater artifact classification and analysis. Other exhibits show how pottery is reconstructed and demonstrate the similarities between ancient and modern tools.

California Center for the Arts Museum

Dedicated to supporting California artists, the Museum at the California Center for the Arts, Escondido features three galleries, a sculpture court, and a gift shop. During February, the museum is celebrating the 15th Anniversary of Niki de Saint Phalle’s sculpture garden, Queen Califia’s Magical Circle.The colorful garden, located in Kit Carson Park, was inspired by California Myths and legends.  The exhibit, Niki de Saint Phalle: Mythical Creatures will display models, blueprints, sculptures, photographs and video to honor the artist.

Concurrently the museum will also be showing Inspired: A Mosaic Invitational, featuring artists inspired by Niki de Saint Phalle, as well as Eva Struble: Cover Crop, a collection of mixed media landscapes with socio-political and environmental undercurrents.

Also in February:

February 10, 2018:

Free Family Art Day

  • Art Studio 2: 10 am
  • An artist-led art lesson related to the current museum exhibition.

Queen Califia’s Magical Circle Open

  • Kit Carson Park 9:00am-2:00pm
  • Docents available to answer questions.
  • For information, including hours and directions, call: (760) 839-4000.

Focus on Local Farms with artist Eva Struble and Edible San Diego

  • Tower Gallery: 3 pm
  • Artist Eva Struble will join Edible San Diego Magazine for a discussion.

San Diego Children’s Museum

The San Diego Children’s Museum is a North County must for kids under 10. The exhibits focus on science, culture, and art, and inspire children to learn through hands-on exploration, imagination, and experimentation. The museum’s colorful and inviting space is split into several different areas. An Experimentation section has hands-on activities based on science, math, and engineering. The Exploration area uses a local market, dress-up area and books to feature various cultures (rotating). Imagination is encouraged on the stage, which has musical instruments, puppet shows, and dress-up areas. Outside, the Discovery zone features gardens, lego fountains, chickens, sandboxes, and bubbles!

Not only does the Discovery Museum have full-time exhibits, there are many special daily activities to enjoy as well. Weekly self-guided classroom activities are provided based on the featured culture. At 11 am and 2 pm daily, staff members ring the bell and gather kids into the Book Nook (complete with bean bags), for Storytime. At 10 am and 3 pm, the Outdoor Art Studio Workshop hosts 30-minute art projects (theme changes monthly). The Children’s Discovery Garden has exploration times at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm, where activities include: watering plants, looking for bugs and learning about compost. At 11:30 am and 2:30 pm kids can meet, feed, pet and learn how to care for the chickens.

Besides the daily activities, the Museum hosts a bevy of Special Events and Programs. These include a KPBS day, Farm Animal Days, and even a Sensory Friendly Day. The museum is also available for camps, scout programs, and birthday parties.

Drea Colores: Drea Colores grew up in Tucson, AZ and now lives in Carlsbad. Writer + Maker + Photographer. IG: dreacolores