Museums in La Mesa

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Among its two facilities in La Jolla and downtown San Diego, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego houses an array of works made since 1950. Head here and you can explore everything from Pop Art and minimalism of the 1960s and 1970s to conceptual pieces from the last half-century, headlined by contemporary-art luminaries such as Andy Warhol and Ai Weiwei.

Major figures aside, the MCASD strives to spotlight mid-career artists still looking for their big break, as well as pieces by Latin American artists and emergent talent. Between the museum's collection and rotating exhibitions, there are galleries that accommodate paintings, photographs, films, and multimedia installations. Outside both locations, there are more site-specific installations and sculptures by artists such as Richard Serra and Marcos Ramírez ERRE, whose father created the Caps Lock on the day his son was born.

There’s more to the place than its exhibitions: the museum engages visitors with events and programs such as art-making sessions and artist lectures. Held three evenings a year, the Thursday Night Thing series includes talks, hands-on activities, live music, and cocktails, all based on the latest museum exhibitions.

1001 Kettner Blvd
San Diego,
CA
US

The historic fountain at the east end of Balboa Park’s El Prado pedestrian walk is a lure for visitors, thanks to its majestic and cooling spray. But a quick turn to the right is the entrance to the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, another local draw. For the young, it’s a two story, interactive science playground. For the young at heart, there are sophisticated displays, rotating exhibits and the new, NanoSeam IMAX Dome Theater. Films splayed across the 76-foot wraparound screen plunge viewers into the depths of the sea and out into space, through jungles and between skyscrapers around the planet. Resident astronomers also create new shows monthly, using the latest SkyScan System software. The café near the entrance takes care of hungry visitors with a modest menu, a few tables indoors and patio seating in front of the fountain.

1875 El Prado
San Diego,
CA
US

Jane Mitchell, a 26-time Emmy Award winner, ventures into the lives of professional athletes, learning not only their athletic triumphs and stats, but also about the their personal accomplishments and struggles. For more than 14 years, the One on One with Jane Mitchell television show, produced and anchored by Jane Mitchell, has interviewed many famous athletes in the San Diego area, from rising stars to Hall of Famers to people who can carry unabridged dictionaries more than 100 yards. Many of the show's stories and figures, including Drew Brees and Ted Wiliams, are collected in Jane's book, One on One, providing a source for readers to revisit their favorite interviews.

2131 Pan American Plz
San Diego,
CA
US

Those seeking inspiration for their next bestselling historical conspiracy potboiler starring Marisa Tomei will appreciate today's Groupon: one adult admission to The Da Vinci Experience at the San Diego Air & Space Museum for $12 (normally $24.75). Admission is good for both the exhibit and the museum. This might be your family's last opportunity to experience the Experience before it closes permanently on January 3, 2010 or you relocate to Atlanta for the 2010-11 Hawks season.Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.

2001 Pan American Plz
San Diego,
CA
US

Traversing San Diego’s storied past, from the land’s ancestral Kumeyaay Native American tribe to modern day, the San Diego History Center stuffs minds with knowledge and inspires appreciation for local lore. Admission grants access to more than 45 million paper artifacts and 2.5 million images found in the library, fine arts collections, exhibitions, and displays of historic fast-food receipts. With a family membership, a pair of historians and two guests gain full access to the renowned research library, as well as to the center itself and the Junípero Serra Museum in Presido Park. A complimentary subscription to the quarterly Journal of San Diego History keeps members abreast of pictorial essays, in-depth explorations of regional culture, and hilarious membership-ID-photo outtakes. Members-only invitations to exhibition previews and events fill calendars with endless social opportunities.

1649 El Prado
San Diego,
CA
US

The San Diego Natural History Museum has transported visitors into the past for almost eight decades. The recently opened Ends Of The Earth exhibit lets museum-goers watch explorers conquer terrain in the multimedia theater, put on a penguin suit and slide like the birds themselves, or challenge a live polar bear to an ice-eating contest. Illuminate history through the Fossil Mysteries exhibit's life-size models of ancient animals, such as dinosaurs and mastodons, as well as a fossil aquarium featuring actual whale bones on display. Dads and future dads looking to enjoy 3-D movies without braving the multiplex's gangs of candy-craving teens can use the included tickets to catch The Ultimate Wave Tahiti, starring champion surfer Kelly Slater, or Turtle Reef 3D, from the award-winning producers behind museum mainstay Ocean Oasis.

1788 El Prado
San Diego,
CA
US