February is for Museum Lovers

Growing up, I thought February was the worst. The weather was the pits. The holiday decorations were down and real Spring was still a few months away. But now, February has become one of my favorite months - filled with lots of birthdays, and, of course, Museum Month in San Diego. During Museum Month, museums throughout San Diego County offer half-off admission, which makes it the perfect time to revisit an old favorite or to check out something new.

Just in case you were wondering, here's what my 2016 Museum Month Bucket List might look like:

Made in America at Mingei, featuring an iconic piece from every state.

Eureka! at The New Children's Museum.

A bonus trip to the San Diego Children's Discovery Museum in Escondido. (Have you been? If you have little ones, I promise it's worth the drive. Post nap time in the afternoon is the best time to go. Mornings are hopping there.)

And MCASD is always a good idea. (Here's what's on view now.)

To get the discount, just pick up a Museum Month pass at any San Diego, Temecula or Imperial Valley Macy's store.

Just think of it as a little Valentine's (or Galentine's) Day gift to yourself.


Museums Free-For-All: 2016 Edition

So I'm settling in here in Northern Michigan. It's snowed, oh, about three feet since I arrived and the power has already gone out once. As I write this, I'm watching more snow fall outside. It's beautiful and peaceful, but cold, which makes me a little nostalgic for sunny SoCal and all of the lovely museums.

Speaking of lovely SoCal museums, this Saturday, January 30 is Museums Free-For-All. During this annual event, twenty museums in LA, Long Beach, and Orange, Santa Barbara counties open their doors to the public for free for one day only. (Either Saturday or Sunday depending on the museum.)

If I weren't 2500 miles away, I would head to the Skirball to see Manzanar: The Wartime Photographs of Ansel Adams (on view through February 21). Or I'd go to LACMA and hang out in James Turrell's Breathing Light installation for a little while. (Note: Museums Free-For-All only grants guests general admission at LACMA.)

If you don't have plans this Saturday or Sunday, perhaps you'll consider spending a few hours at one of these local spots. Then share your experience on Instagram with the hashtag #themuseumscout so I can live vicariously through you.


Farewell, San Diego!

Oh San Diego, you've been good for me. You led me back to those museum-loving and community- connecting passions of mine, which had been dormant since oh, maybe college. Maybe even earlier. So thank you.

And this blog! I wouldn't have started a blog without you there to inspire me, San Diego. Thank you for that, too.

In just a few days, we will be hitting the road. We'll head from oh so sunny San Diego to oh so snowy Northern Michigan. But it's a good thing. A quality of life boost. An opportunity to be among trees again. I'm excited to get really, really domestic. I see a lot of canning and pickle-making and maybe some fruit trees in my future. And we'll be back, San Diego. I'm guessing you'll see us every year in February or March when we just. can't. take. the cold. anymore. We'll come back and bask in your sunshine.

I made a lot of really good friends here (and met some lovely acquaintances), more than I have anywhere else in Southern California. I am very grateful for that. I will miss all of you. But! If you ever find yourself anywhere near the state of Michigan, I hope you'll give me a call. We'll have a SUP waiting for you at the lake. Unless, of course, it's Winter (October - May). In which case, we'll have some shiny snow shoes for you to traipse around in.

I'm truly hoping to keep this little blog going in some capacity. There are museums and fun community-building things where we're going, but it's different there. (The town's population is under 1,000 in the Winter.) So this blog will probably morph and go domestic, rather than local. We'll have to see.

Goodbyes are so very sad so I'll just say see you later instead because I will.

The Museum Scout


Educator Open House Season Twenty-Fifteen UPDATE

Hello friends! I told you I'd be following up as more Educator Events popped up on my radar. Today, I have three more to add to the list - the Fleet, SDMA, and theNat.

Now I am particularly excited about the events at the Fleet and theNat because I struggle a bit with the sciences. I'm always eager to learn more about space or paleontology or best practices for teaching about the weather in Southern California. You know, the more abstract -ologies.

So on Thursday, October 8 from 4:00 until 6:30pm, you'll find me at the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center enjoying its Teacher Open House. If you'd also like to check out the latest IMAX film at the Fleet, head here to register.

Then on Wednesday, October 21, The San Diego Museum of Art hosts its 2015/2016 Educator Fall Preview. Educators can take a tour of the Museum's new exhibition, The Art of Music, and learn more about programming and upcoming exhibits at the Museum. For more information or to RSVP, head here

Finally, on November 5, join the San Diego Natural History Museum for its Educator Appreciation Night from 4:00 until 7:00pm. A little PSA: The first 400 Educators to arrive that afternoon will have access to the Maya exhibit. (Admission is normally $29!) Other options include touring the Museum's latest permanent exhibit Coast to Cactus in Southern California or taking a behind-the-scenes tour of its research departments. RSVP by October 31 here.

Hope to see you there!


I Heart the Library.

Have you paid a visit to your local library lately? Please tell me you have.

Here in San Diego, we are so very lucky to have such a network of local libraries. Over the past three plus years, I have saved hundreds of dollars (if not more) on books and movie rentals thanks to my local library. I check out books from the library like a champ; but one thing I haven't taken proper advantage of is the programming the branches offer.

Case in point: I've been to exactly two events in three years. I went to a cooking class by Forkin' Healthy and a figure drawing session.

You can't see me, but I'm hanging my head in shame right now.

But! It's not to late for either of us. And juuust in case you're interested, here's a handful of upcoming library events and opportunities that caught my eye:

On September 28, head to the Central Library to view the documentary Ai Weiwei: The Fake Case. The documentary will be followed by a Q+A session facilitated by Cristina Scorza, Education Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. I saw Ai Weiwei's exhibit on Alcatraz back in January and it was so very eye-opening. I expect this event will be the same.

On September 30, author of The Paris WifePaula McLain will pay a visit to the Ridford Branch in La Jolla from 7:00-8:00pm to talk about her new book, Circling the Sun

Want to visit a local museum for free? There's a library for that! The Central Library has a handful of Check It Out Family Museum Passes to The San Diego Museum of Art, The New Children's Museum, and the San Diego Museum of Man. Up in Escondido, the local branch has a San Diego Children's Discovery Museum (SDCDM) Museum Membership pass available for check out. And! I noticed today that my local North County branch had single-use complimentary passes to SDCDM up for grabs near the checkout counter, too.

Speaking of Esco, two museums are hosting family-friendly, book-related events this Saturday, September 12. First up, SDCDM has partnered with KPBS to offer a poetry-meets-music workshop based on the hit series, Martha Speaks and featuring special guest Scott Paulson. For more information on this and other KPBS workshops at SDCDM, head here.  

At the Center for the Arts, Escondido, five illustrators and authors featured in the Center's Writing With Pictures exhibit will read their work and sign books. The event costs $10 for adults and includes admission to the exhibition. Children and active military members are free. For more information on this Storytime and Signing event, head here.

To all of you folks who don't live in San Diego, I hope you'll go to your local library's site today and check out the fun things happening, in the words of Al Roker, "in your neck of the woods." Then report back to us to brag.


Educator Open House Season Twenty-Fifteen

Oh, Christmas is comes early for me yet again. I heart Educator Open House season in San Diego and this year's line-up is really, really good guys. But to find out about these events takes a little bit of digging, so I've compiled everything in one handy dandy blog post. 

(You're welcome.)

First up, the California Center for the Arts, Escondido will host its annual Educators' Night Out. This is a new one for me, but it have heard that the Center puts on a lovely event. The event is free to all San Diego County educators and administrators, just RSVP by September 18 here.

Next up, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego invites educators to join it for a day-long series of workshops titled Educators Engage! Through the workshops, participants will learn how to incorporate contemporary art and in-gallery teaching techniques into a variety of disciplines. The program costs just $5 for an entire day of professional development. (How crazy is that?!) I have been before and would highly recommend it. Want proof of my attendance? I'm right there in the marketing photo on the MCASD's website. (Yup, that's me with the crazy hair and camo pants.) For more information on this year's Educators' Engage Workshop, head here.

Do you have kids? Then you won't want to miss Educator's Night Out at The New Children's Museum. Educators and their families are invited to the Museum to explore the Museum's newest exhibition, Eureka! for free! There will be information about school field trips, live performances, and art-making workshops, too. For more information on Educators' Night Out at NCM, head here.

And finally, Mingei International Museum is offering a full season of events, starting with an Educator Preview of Made in America on Thursday, September 17 from 5:30 until 7:30pm. At this event, educators can catch a special preview of Made in America, Mingei's new exhibition, led by Mingei's Director Rob Sidner. (More info here.)

Then on Thursday, October 15 from 4:30 until 7:30pm, educators are invited back to explore Made in America further and learn about standards-aligned curriculum that was developed in conjunction with the exhibition. (More info here.)

On Thursday, October 30, Mingei will host its Educators Open House from 5:00pm to 7:00pm. I have been to this event in the past and it is well worth your time. Mingei pulls out all the stops for educators. There are fun projects to do, and really, really knowledgable people at the Museum to speak with. Have topic you need to cover, but don't have a clue how to approach it? The staff at Mingei have not failed me yet. They know something about everything and their knowledge base spans cultures around the globe. Trust me, just ask. For more information on Mingei's Educators Open House or to RSVP, head here. And stay tuned for more educator only events at Mingei later this Winter.

Now, I know there are more Educator Open Houses out there and when I find them, I will report back here. (theNat, for example, typically has a great event and I'm a sucker for free iMax movies....)

Stay tuned.


Movie Night on the Midway - Summer 2015 Edition

Watching movies under the stars is among my very favorite things that I never get to do. I look at people who have those movie projectors, hang sheets in their backyards, and host movie nights, and jealousy courses through me. But every summer, San Diego, we get our chance because we have Summer Movies in the Park. Holly cow it's crowded, but that means that 1.) someone out there is doing (or has done) a very very good job of marketing it and 2.) it must be worthwhile.

Which brings me to the best Summer Movies in the Park event ever, Movie Night on the Midway. It happens twice a summer. This Friday, July 3 is one of those nights. On Friday, grab your picnic blankets, folding chairs, and favorite snacks and head to the deck of the USS Midway Museum for a special showing of Back to the Future. I thought I saw a DeLorean the other day and I got excited about this event all over again.

Now, a few logistics: Doors will open at 7:00pm and the show will start at 8:00pm. But! From what I hear, the movie nights on the Midway are particularly popular, so show up early and with an extra dose of patience.

And if you can't make it to Movie Night on the Midway this week, it's okay! On Thursday, August 13, you'll get a second chance.


Ode to the Jellyfish.

I don't often visit aquariums, but when I do, I love to see the jellyfish exhibits.

Jellyfish were my arch nemeses in the ocean when I was a kid. They ruined all my fun. But in a tank (and hopefully an animal-friendly one), I find them fascinating and beautiful. Watching them float up and down is a therapeutic experience for me. So this week I wanted to share my love of jellyfish with you. And if you feel so inclined, I have a book recommendation and a fun project for you to try as well.

Read on.

Several years ago, again in that preschool classroom of mine, we embarked on a year-long exploration of the ocean. Each month, we'd learn about a different marine animal. We researched sea urchins. We read about orcas (a class favorite) and about sea stars. And then, we moved onto jellyfish. Again, most kids hate jellyfish like they hate bees, but I urged the class to keep an open mind.

So we read this book. We learned that jellyfish don't have brains. They just bump and sting, bump and sting. (As adults, we know that it's slightly more complicated than that, but that's the gist of it.) In short, I wanted my students to know that the stinging jellyfish do really wasn't personal. It's just what they do.

Near the end of our unit, I "made" some "moon jellies" from gelatin and brought them into class. The kids had a blast breaking their "jellyfish" apart and no animal was harmed in the process.

And then we tied ribbon to shower caps and made something like this:

At the end of the month, we all participated a jellyfish dance. We bumped and swayed and stung our friends to our hearts content.

It was a blast.

Locally, Birch Aquarium is the spot to check out jellyfish. And if you have a BofA card, you can visit Birch Aquarium (or this one) for free the first Saturday and Sunday of every month thanks to a promotion called 'Museums on Us.'



Once upon a time in a preschool classroom in Los Angeles, 24 young children held paintbrushes dipped in white paint and listened to the music from Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker. One moment, their brushes drifted serenely across giant pieces of construction paper. The next, their hands swirled and dashed as the Nutcracker battled the villainous Mouse King. The activity was both mellow and exciting, engaging and centering. The children loved it.

I tell you this story because this is an activity almost anyone could do, at almost any time, in almost any place. But we don't. We're too busy or we forget to or we default to looking at our phones in our downtime.

For this reason, I wanted to mention a special event happening this Sunday at Oceanside Museum of Art. On Sunday, June 7 from 1:00 until 4:00pm, families are invited to join musician Scott Paulson for an electronic jam and doodling session. And it's free.

Now Parents, I know your weekend schedule is jam-packed with birthday parties and laundry and soccer practice. When I talk about an event coming up at a museum and suggest you go, you think I'm crazy. Like, certifiable. The thing is, I wouldn't talk about it if I didn't think it was worthwhile. It's a free, structured way to spend some really quality time together.

So just give it some thought, okay?

For more information on Free Family Art Day and other upcoming events at OMA, head here.



Shore Thing at MCASD La Jolla starts up again on five two eight and I can't wait.

To translate: Starting this week through the end of August, every Thursday evening from 5:00 until 8:00pm Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego will be free and open to the public. Guests can enjoy tours of the latest exhibitions and a little live music, even hit up the cash bar. It's BYOP (Bring Your Own Picnic), which sounds like the perfect way to take in THAT VIEW.

For more information on Shore Thing and other upcoming events at MCASD, head here.