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Affordable Art Exhibits in the Bay Area

You’ve been working hard so far this semester and you deserve a break. One way to treat yourself is to visit one of the many museums in the Bay Area. It’s very common for there to be offers of free admission once a month and various discounts for students and groups of people. Sites like “Do The Bay” or “Fun Cheap SF” list the various programs, which is where I learned about the three highlighted museums below. Other noteworthy museums with opportunities for free admission are Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the San Francisco Asian Art Museum, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (only if you visit with a child).

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Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) – The OMCA is well-known for “First Sunday’s”, where admission is free each first Sunday of the month. Additionally, the tickets are half off on Fridays after 5 p.m., but any other time, the regular student admission (ID required) is $10.95. This price allows access to the continual exhibits: CA art, CA history, and CA natural sciences. If you have an additional $4 to spend, I would suggest seeing the special exhibition that is currently showing called Mildred Howard’s TAP: Investigation of Memory. Howard is a 74-year old Black woman artist who was born and raised in the Bay Area by two activist parents. Her multimedia installation features themes of identity, church culture, gentrification, dance, and activism. Make sure to return for Queer California: Untold Stories, on exhibit starting April 2019.

San Jose Museum of Art (SJMA) – If you find yourself in the South Bay, visit SJMA for only $6 as a student (ID required). The price might be even lower if you catch some of their deals/discounts such as First Friday (free after 5 P.M.), 20% off a ticket if you’re an organ donor, and up to 4 free tickets if you present an EBT card. The current exhibits are Dinh Q. Lê: True Journey is Return and Conversion: Art and Engineering.  The first exhibit features video and photography installations about war, migration, and diaspora in the context of Vietnam, and the second illustrates the intersection of art and engineering. Lê is a refugee, who later returned to live in Vietnam, and he is known for his woven photos that resemble hand-woven baskets.

deYoung Museum – Although difficult to get to via public transportation, the deYoung does offer free general admission each first Tuesday of the month. Additionally, presenting a public transit proof of purchase takes off $2, and the price for students (ID required) is $6. The catch is that the special exhibits cost extra money, usually between $20-30. The current exhibits are Monet: The Late Years and Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey. Paul Gauguin was a French Post-Impressionist artist of the second half of the 19th century. The exhibit features a video by artist Yuki Kihara called “First Impressions: Paul Gauguin” that calls out the colonial gaze evident in Gauguin’s art. The more expensive exhibit currently features the paintings of Claude Monet in the last years of his career. Monet is considered to be the founder of French Impressionism and this collection shows his movement towards modernism.