With permanent exhibitions including an observation beehive, snake display, and touch pool full of wiggly aquatic life, the Santa Cruz Museum of Natural History appeals to both individuals and families looking to learn more about the naturally occurring world around them. The museum's current exhibition, Bones: An Inside Look at Nature, explores adaptation and biodiversity by looking at the skeletons of different animals, a bone-crown topped with the skelegem of a never before seen whale fossil, whose age is counted in the millions.
The Museum of Art and History's magical meld of contemporary art and Santa Cruz County history came into being in 1996, when the art museum and the Santa Cruz Historical Society were fused. An individual membership gets you free admission to the museum's diverse collection, invitations to members-only exhibition previews, a discount to the museum's public programs, and, among other benefits, resistance to the wail of the banshee. Revisit the days of writing on paper and typing with one finger at the Don’t Forget to Write: Correspondence in the Pre-Electronic Age exhibit, which compares 1918 wartime letters with 2010 Facebook posts and showcases out-of-date communication methods, such as typewriters, fountain pens, and styrofoam cups connected by floss. Machines of Memory: Sculpture and Works on Paper by Joseph Zirker, an exhibit about the Bay Area printmaker's innovative work and methods, displays three- and two- dimensional compositions aglow with biomorphic shapes and symbols.
Recently in the news for auctioning off a Steve Martin–created piece, the San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art has delighted art lovers for 30 years with its massive array of intriguing modern-day masterpieces. A friend-level membership is good for unlimited free admission for two people into the gallery and its exhibits. The most recent exhibit, Tony May: Old Technology, showcases the San Jose artist's whimsical multimedia creations, including his T. Tree House—a surreal cross between a backyard tree house, studio, gigantic lantern, and Japanese teahouse, complete with a stuttering robot that generates the day's secret word. You'll also get two admissions to the annual Fall Art Auction, discounts at San Jose restaurants, and admission to the talking art discussion series, which will answer questions such as "Is this stain on my shirt art?" Migrant aesthetes will also enjoy free admission to more than 450 museums throughout the country.
Spread out among 132,000 square feet and three levels are a variety of permanent and temporary exhibits that represent the museum’s goal of innovative inspiration. The recently opened, hands-on, and interactive exhibit Invention at Play examines the evolution of playtime from the hoop-and-stick of yesteryear to the portable holographic virtual wristwatches of today. The art, film, and music-focused Tech Virtual Test Zone conceptualizes ideas from the virtual world of Second Life with interactive wonders such as the Wall of Musical Buttons. The Wall allows visitors to experiment with note intervals in familiar musical melodies, and Mashup Masterpiece gives visitors the ability to add their own creative modifications after observing an artist's artistic process. Aspiring weatherpersons can learn about the powers of wind, water, and sun in Green by Design, or budding Beakmans can perform various science experiments in the Exploration Gallery. Keep the stimulation going while giving tired legs a rest with the included educational IMAX movie. Check out current offerings such as Arabia or Under the Sea or peruse the schedule for other upcoming shows at The Hackworth IMAX Dome Theater.
The San Jose Museum of Art reflects the diverse cultures and innovative spirit of Silicon Valley. Through its exhibitions, programs, scholarship, and collections, SJMA connects the present and the past, the art of the West Coast and the world.