The Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park had a soft opening. Photo by Chris Stone

So in the galaxy of pop culture, what does the new Comic-Con Museum in Balboa Park feature in its “soft opening”? Try Archie comics, Pac-Man, “Star Trek” among six “diverse” exhibits.

Local dignitaries, Comic-Con officials and volunteers were the first to see the 250,000 square feet of exhibits as a “special edition” San Diego Comic Convention opened Friday at the San Diego Convention Center.

The former San Diego Hall of Champions sports museum will be a destination for Comic-Con attendees, who can take a free shuttle between to the venue. The shuttle goes every 30 minutes.

Tickets are $19.95 and can be had on site, 2131 Pan American Plaza, or via its website. Reservations are encouraged.

At a morning ribbon-cutting, Mayor Todd Gloria hailed the venue as a great day for San Diego — “a merger of two incredible icons: Balboa Park and Comic-Con” with the popular arts venue taking its “rightful place” besides other museums in the park.

He said it reinforces San Diego as a cultural tourism destination. And he unveiled a proclamation making Friday “Comic-Con Museum Day” in the city.

Assemblyman Chris Ward, whose former City Council district included Balba Park, called the museum a year-round “cornerstone institution” and “an economic force for all of California.”

Ward also bragged it would be another reason to show off San Diego to his Sacramento colleagues.

Memberships in the museum range, in various tiers, up to $1,200. The highest level offers T-shirts, lanyards and pins, plus 10% museum store discounts and:

  • Priority invites to exclusive social and educational events throughout the year.
  • Permanent name recognition on the Museum Donor Wall.
  • Ten single-use guest passes for regular admission to the Museum.
  • Invites to first-look exhibition openings, receptions, ribbon cuttings, and more.
  • Priority reservations for events, programs and room rentals.

Other opening day exhibits are:

  • Gene Roddenberry: Sci-Fi Visionary as creator of “Star Trek.”
  • Chas Addams…Family and Friends as cartoonist of darkly humorous and macabre characters.
  • Cardboard Superheroes: the art of teenage brothers Connor (17) and Bauer (14) Lee, this exhibit features life-size cardboard models of superheroes such as Hulkbuster, Groot C-3PO, and Baby Yoda.
  • Out of the Darkness: Comics in the Times of COVID featuring artwork by San Diego young people.
  • The PAC-MAN Arcade on the 2020 Museum Character Hall of Fame Inductee.

Tier 3-5 Charter members were the first inside at 10:30 a.m.

The museum’s long-range plan predicted 13,000 charter members, 135,000 annual attendance and a $140 million economic impact, thanks also to special events and camps.

Special themed offerings for family groups were promised for:

  • Earth Day
  • Free Comic Book Day
  • 24-Hour Comics Day
  • December Nights
  • Banned Book Week
  • Black History Month
  • And Women’s History Month

The museum’s home is in the 1935 Federal Building in the Palisades area near the San Diego Air & Space Museum and Municipal Gym.

Almost as old as the building is the Archie Comics universe, so the museum has an exhibit dedicated to “Eight Decades of Archie,” the forever teen star of Riverdale.

Comic-Con Museum’s official grand opening is expected in the summer of 2022.