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Smithsonian promotes free SoCal museum admissions on Saturday

Originally posted by the Los Angeles Times

September 27, 2012

Several of the most-visited museums in the United States are in Washington, D.C. – and a big reason, in addition to the ample tourist traffic to our nation’s capital, is that they are under federal auspices and therefore free.

It’s an example of your tax dollars at work – $1 billion of them for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art, under President Obama’s budget proposal for the fiscal year beginning Oct.1.

Understanding that most Americans can’t make it to D.C., Smithsonian magazine, published by the Smithsonian Institution, is again organizing Museum Day Live! — an annual nationwide day of free admissions that will take place on Saturday.

More than 1,500 art museums, historical sites, children’s museums, nature museums and others are participating nationally, including 49 venues in Southern California.

To take advantage – as more than 350,000 people did nationwide last year — you have to visit a special website, pick a museum and print your tickets. The offer is limited to two freebies per household.

The economic advantages for Southern Californians range from zero – some of the participating museums are free anyway – to $35 or $34.50, which is what two adult admissions would normally cost, respectively, at the San Diego Air & Space Museum and the Living Desert Zoo and Botanical Gardens in Palm Desert.  The biggest savings in L.A. are at the Grammy Museum at L.A. Live, where two adult admissions normally cost $25.90.

Others include the Autry National Center of the American West in Griffith Park, the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, Mission San Juan Capistrano, the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, the Pacific Asia Museum and Pasadena Museum of California Art in Pasadena, and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in San Diego.

One venue, the Zimmer Children’s Museum  across Wilshire Boulevard from the La Brea Tar Pits, is offering free admission Sunday because it operates under Jewish auspices and is closed Saturdays for the Sabbath.

The California Science Center in Exposition Park  is participating, but mainly out of solidarity as a Smithsonian affiliate. General admission at the state-owned museum is always free, anyway. Museum Day Live! admissions at the science center won’t include the current special exhibition, “Cleopatra,” or to its IMAX films.

Museum Day Live! coincides this time with “Carmageddon II,” the construction-induced closure of the 405 freeway through the Sepulveda Pass on Saturday and Sunday. Those who’d need to travel that stretch of road to avail themselves of a free museum admission might want to factor in the inconvenience. It’s prompting the Getty Museum and Skirball Cultural Center to close for the two days.

Here’s the list of Southern California venues offering free admission:

American Museum of Ceramic Art, Pomona

Autry National Center

California Science Center

California Surf Museum, Oceanside

Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard

Casa de la Guerra, Santa Barbara

Catalina Island Museum, Avalon

Chinese American Museum, Los Angeles

Dr. Willella Howe-Waffle House and Medical Museum, Santa Ana

El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historical Park

Elverhoj Museum of History and Art, Solvang

Escondido History Center

Fowler Museum at UCLA

Heritage Museum of Orange County

Laguna Art Museum

Living Desert Zoo & Botanical Gardens, Palm Springs

Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust

Lux Art Institute, Encinitas

Marston House Museum, San Diego

Mission San Juan Capistrano

Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach

Museum of Making Music, Carlsbad

Museum of Ventura County

Oceanside Museum of Art

Otis College of Art and Design, Ben Maltz Gallery, Los Angeles

Pacific Asia Museum, Pasadena

Palos Verdes Art Center, Rolling Hills Estates

Pasadena Museum of California Art

Pennypickle’s Workshop, Temecula Children’s Museum

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