Top 7 San Diego Museum Exhibitions Not To Miss This Summer

Written by Danielle Susalla Deery on Friday, July 15, 2016 - Read 2134 times

While I love going to the beach and the pool in the summer, sometimes I just want to stay clean and cool and embark on an indoor museum adventure. There are some exciting exhibitions currently on view, or that will be opening soon, at a variety of San Diego Museum Council member museums that I highly recommend visiting with your family this summer. Make a bucket list and try to visit at least half of these memorable and educational exhibitions, your kids will love you for it.

The list below is organized according to geographical region and closing date. If you are looking for a whole-day experience, then scroll to the end of the blog where you will find a list of curated day-trips that include a museum, restaurant for lunch, and a play destination. Have fun exploring museums this summer!



quilts of color

Quilts and Color, San Diego Museum of Art

San Diego Museum of Art
Quilts And Color From the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
On view through September 5, 2016
Teach your children about the importance of color and patterns in a work of art in this vibrant exhibition of quilts. While you may associate quilts with keeping you warm at night, this display of engaging motifs, intense colors, and optical illusions will help educate you about color theory, craftsmanship, and the beauty of early American quilts since the 19th century.

San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT)
Whales: Giants of the Deep
On view through September 5, 2016
Experience the massive scale, power, and grace of whales in this immersive exhibition. Featuring two sperm whale skeletons, one of them an impressive 58 feet long, you are going to be amazed at how much you learn about the world of whales. My two-year-old daughter particularly enjoyed the sound exhibit where you can turn a wheel and listen to the different sounds whales make underwater. There are a number of videos and interactive installations the entire family will enjoy. This exhibition is aligned with the San Diego Zoo’s Centennial.


Tom Chambers, Museum of Photographic Art

Museum of Photographic Arts
Beauty and the Beast: The Animal in Photography
On view through October 9, 2016
Celebrating animals and nature in conjunction with the San Diego Zoo Centennial, this exhibition presents thought-provoking photographs of animals in various settings from portraits to landscapes.

San Diego History Center
The Lore Behind the Roar! 100 Years of the San Diego Zoo
On view through January 1, 2017
Also aligned with the San Diego Zoo’s Centennial, this exhibition explores the Zoo’s legendary contributions to our region and the animal world. Learn about the history of the Zoo and their pioneering animal habitats through an interesting collection of photographs.


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The Wonder Sound, The New Children's Museum

The New Children’s Museum
The Wonder Sound
Always on view
If you have a little monkey at home, then this is a must-see exhibition this summer. My two-year-old loved climbing through the spider web-like rope tunnel and into the 30 + rooms and various crawlspaces created by artist Wes Sam-Bruce. If you have more than one child, it may be challenging to keep track of them since there are so many hidden rooms. It is best to follow your child through the installation and I recommend wearing pants or shorts and bringing children older than 18 months. The Wonder Sound presents an immersive experience that will make you feel like a kid again.

ruben ochoa
Ruben Ochoa, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art

San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, Downtown, Jacobs Building
Ruben Ochoa: Watching, Waiting, Commiserating
Opening Soon! July 22 through November 27, 2016
Internationally recognized Mexican-American artist Ruben Ochoa uses unconventional materials in this surprising sculptural installation. Incorporating rebar and elevated shipping pallets, viewers will be enchanted by the floating anthropomorphic sculptures above them. This exhibition will be sure to challenge traditional thoughts about sculpture.


Oceanside Museum of Art
California Fibers: Eclectic Threads
On view through October 9, 2016
Featuring a diverse range of media such as silk, cotton, bamboo, wire, and paper, this exhibition presents an exciting collection of fiber and textile art from current members of the San Diego-based California Fibers group. Visitors will be amazed by the intricate techniques used such as weaving, basketry, quilting, embroidery, and felting.

Additional Family Museum Adventure Ideas Summer 2016

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Star of India, Maritime Museum of San Diego

Blue Star Museums
Many of the museums listed in this blog offer free admission for active duty military and up to 5 family members through September 5, 2016. Blue Star Museums is an Operation Appreciation initiative from Blue Star Families in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts, Department of Defense and more than 2,000 museums across the United States.

Danielle Susalla Deery

Danielle Susalla Deery is an Independent Curator, Adjunct Art History Professor, San Diego museum aficionado, mother and former Director of Exhibits and Communications at Oceanside Museum of Art.

You can reach Danielle at