The Price of Entry

I recently visited the MOXI science museum for the first time, and as a grandparent, I was struck by the expense. This led me to investigate the relative costs of visiting a couple of other museums and the Botanic Garden, which produced an interesting comparison. My concern is accessibility for local residents as opposed to tourists.

The short version is that for grandparents to tour the Santa Barbara Museum of Art with two young grandchildren costs $24. To do the same at the Museum of Natural History is $32. At the S.B. Botanic Garden, the cost is $40. For MOXI, it is $48. Of course there are memberships that can be purchased, free days at most of these, and parking or transportation costs to be considered. All are outlined in full below.

Granted that the cost of building, equipping, and maintaining the MOXI was/is high, and the exhibits are high-tech; I still feel that the cost for many local families is high. In order to include more low-budget visitors I suggest offering senior and student discounts and a discounted family entry fee. I hate to see a science museum out of reach for less affluent families.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art

membership for a household (2 adults + any minor children): $45

general membership for 1 person: $60

entry fees: seniors and college students: $6

children 6-17: $6

adults: $10

Entry cost for 2 seniors + 2 grandchildren (any age): $24

Free every Thursday evening

Parking: timed parking in city lot, free street parking on Sundays

Museum of Natural History:

membership: 2 adults: $65

family: $85 (no limit on number of minor children, grandchildren)

Both memberships include admission to 330 other museums.

entry fees: adult $12

teen/senior: $8

child: $7

Free Sunday once a month x 8 months of the year

Free parking

Entry cost for 2 seniors + 2 teen grandchildren: $32

2 seniors + 2 children under 13: $30

Botanic Garden:

membership: individual: $60 + 2 guest passes

family/dual: $90 + 2 guest passes

Both memberships include admission to 200 other gardens.

entry fees: adult: $12

senior: $10

teens/college students: $8

children: $6

military: free

There are a number of specialized free days during the year.

Free parking

Entry cost for 2 seniors + 2 teen grandchildren: $40

Entry cost for 2 seniors + 2 children under 13: $36


membership: 2 adults: $90

family: $130

Entrance to 300 other museums limited to family membership

entry fees: adults and teens: $14

children: $10

no senior rate

educators in S.B. County free

(The MTD does not issue tickets, and so it would not be possible to show a ticket for a discount.)

Timed parking in city lot. Very little street parking on Sundays.

Entry cost for 2 adults + 2 children: $48

Entry cost for 2 adults and 2 teens: $56

Editor’s Note: The Santa Barbara Art Museum adds that in addition to the prices mentioned, all Santa Barbara County students (K-college) with current ID are admitted to SBMA for free. For local grandchildren and their grandparents, the cost of admission would be $12. SBMA also offers free admission to all Santa Barbara County teachers (K-12) and active U.S. Military and their families.


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