San Diego Natural History Museum
The San Diego Natural History Museum is one of the institutions participating in the Big Exchange. Photo by Richard Benton

The San Diego Museum Council‘s annual “Big Exchange” promotion returns Wednesday, allowing residents who are members of one participating museum to visit the other 34 participating museums for free.

The Big Exchange is the museum council’s effort to encourage residents to explore the county’s museums, art galleries, botanical gardens and historic sites. The promotion is reciprocal, according to the museum council, meaning that a resident with single-person membership will only have access to one free admission.

“San Diego has an incredibly vibrant and diverse museum scene and The Big Exchange is the perfect opportunity to test drive a new experience,” said San Diego Museum Council Executive Director Nicole Miller-Coleman. “Free reciprocal admission makes it so easy to explore a new spot or re-discover an old favorite.”

Since the museum council launched the promotion in 2015, more than 8,000 museum members have participated each year. The Big Exchange will run through May 18, which is International Museum Day.

To participate, residents must present their museum membership card at a participating venue’s visitor services desk. Free admission during the Big Exchange does not cover museum attractions like film screenings and special events. A full list of participating museums can be found at

— City News Service

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.