June 6, 2024

7 Ways to Visit The San Diego Museum of Art for Free, Plus a Low-Cost Bonus Tip

Visitors entering The San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art is your hub for inspiration. At the Museum we aim to inspire, educate, and cultivate curiosity through great works of art, and we believe that art is for everyone. Compiled here are seven ways to enjoy free general admission to the Museum throughout the year. Please note, free general admission does not include access to special exhibitions with supplemental admission costs, nor to the Museum galleries during special events, including Art Alive.

Located in the heart of Balboa Park, The San Diego Museum of Art is the region’s largest and most visited art museum. The Museum’s internationally renowned collection of more than 32,000 works includes European old masters, the Edwin Binney 3rd Collection of South Asian paintings, East Asian art, art from the Americas, and Modern and Contemporary art. The Museum is also home to an exceptional photography collection, which can be seen in the SDMA galleries and at the Museum of Photographic Arts at The San Diego Museum of Art (MOPA@SDMA), a pay-what-you-wish museum in Balboa Park. The Museum regularly features major exhibitions of art from around the world and hosts engaging experiences that invite visitors to explore art through music, dance, film, food, and so much more.

There is much to explore at the Museum and many ways to visit The San Diego Museum of Art for free.

1. Visit the Museum on Free Tuesdays

The San Diego Museum of Art offers free general admission to San Diego County Residents (with ID) on the third Tuesday of every month. A valid ID is required for admission, and certain restrictions apply as these days tend to be busy.

Learn more about Resident Free Tuesdays in Balboa Park.

2. Explore the Museum on Access for All Free Thursdays

General admission to The San Diego Museum of Admission is free to all visitors on the second Thursday of each month throughout 2024 thanks to an Access for All grant funded by the Art Bridges Foundation, a national arts nonprofit founded by philanthropist Alice Walton. In addition to free general admission for all visitors on the second Thursday of each month in 2024, tailored programming for the community is available on select Saturdays and Access for All Thursdays.

Learn more about Access for All at the Museum.

3. Get a San Diego Library Discover & Go Pass from the Library

Enjoy free general admission to The San Diego Museum of Art (and other local attractions) by reserving a Discover & Go pass through your local San Diego City or San Diego County library branch. Discover & Go is a program provided by the library offering free and low-cost passes for museums, science centers, zoos, theatres, and other cultural destinations.

To secure a Discover & Go pass to the Museum, use your library card account information to login to the San Diego City Library Discover & Go site or the San Diego County Library Discover & Go site, choose your desired attraction and date, then checkout. Bring your Discover & Go pass as a printout or on your mobile device to the Museum front desk for entry.

4. Be a Kid

Visiting the Museum is free year-round for youth aged 17 and younger. Complimentary general admission lets kids enjoy the Museum galleries and sculpture garden through every season. Please note, children younger than 14 years of age must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian (age 18 years or older) at all times.

5. Present Your Military ID

Access for All extends complimentary general admission to the Museum through 2024 to the military community plus one guest as part of Access for All. Just show your Department of Defense (DoD) military ID at the admissions desk. This includes free general admission to the Museum for those with valid DoD IDs across military branches and for active, veteran, and dependents, plus one guest, allowing dependents, including military spouses and children, to visit the Museum without their affiliated active duty servicemember.

The San Diego Museum of Art is also a Blue Star Museum, extending free general admission to military and their families each summer. Blue Star Museums offer free admission to active-duty military personnel and their families, including National Guard and Reserve. Blue Star Museums 2024 begins on Armed Forces Day, Saturday, May 19, 2024, and ends on Labor Day, Monday, September 2 2024. Free general admission is offered for up to five family members.

6. Show Your Student ID

The Museum also extends free general admission through 2024 to all students at any level with a student ID thanks to Access for All funding. Student IDs can be from any accredited institution. Just show the Museum admissions team for complimentary general admission and enjoy art from around the world and spanning hundreds of years.

7. Present Your Bank of America Credit or Debit Card

Museums on Us offers Bank of America credit or debit cardholders free general admission to the Museum and other participating cultural institutions on the first full weekend of every month.

Bank of America card holders with active Bank of America, Merrill, or Bank of America Private Bank (U.S. Trust) credit or debit cards and a valid photo ID are eligible to receive free general admission for one adult to participating cultural institutions during program weekends. Cardholder only. Excludes ticketed and special exhibitions and fundraising events. Learn more about Bank of America Museums on Us.

Bonus Tip: Museums for All $3 Admission Available with EBT Card

In addition to the seven ways detailed here to visit the Museum for free, low-cost admission is also available through Museums for All to individuals with a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and a valid form of photo ID.

Museums for All is a cooperative initiative between the Association of Children’s Museums (ACM) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to offer a signature access program that encourages families of all backgrounds to visit museums regularly and build lifelong museum habits.

General museum admission is $3.00 per person for up to four individuals with the presentation of a SNAP Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and a valid form of photo ID. Admission includes up to four individuals per EBT card.

Visit the Museum for your next family outing, romantic date, or solo getaway. We look forward to seeing you at the Museum soon!