Sunday, March 20, 2011

Are you a member?

I've lived in cities my entire adult life, but I haven't spent a lot of time taking advantage of the cultural offerings. I went to the SF opera a few times, but the affordable-ish seats ($28 at the time) are insanely tiny and high-up, and much as I would love to love opera, I haven't found the right one for me. Better seats are 3 and 4 times the price of the cheap seat, and I really don't want to drop a hundred bucks on an evening at the opera!

A couple of different friends have memberships at SFMOMA but so far I haven't successfully coordinated going when they go so that I can get in free. A few years ago I gave some thought to buying a membership to the Fine Art museums in San Francisco (the de Young and the Legion of Honor offer joint membership), reasoning that it would get me in to some upcoming shows that looked pretty cool. Well, I didn't buy a membership and I didn't go see the shows, so there you go. Also, it's a right pain in the neck to get to those museums, which is a factor in my deciding to visit.

I'm thinking of trying a membership - the point of this post! - and I think it's going to be the modern art option. They have two shows on right now that I really want to see; the museum is convenient to transit; and I guess I can call it an experiment - will it be worth my while? I'll have to go five times to break even - I wouldn't ordinarily take a friend and pay their admission, so even if I get people in free that isn't saving money I'd have otherwise spent. (Though certainly it's a very nice benefit I would use.)

Should I do it? Are there unexpected perks of membership? Will I become a smarty-pants egghead (even more than I already am)????


  1. See if your workplace matches charitable donations, might help you decide...

  2. I just wrote a huge comment & google ate it. :(

    We have a lot of memberships, the zoo, aviary, history center & museum collective (art, natural history, Warhol & science center). We make good use of them, and here are the four reasons we keep them.

    1) We believe it's good to support institutions like this in our city.
    2) There are members only perks, like VIP seats in the aviary, invitations to happy hours & lectures. Discounts at the gift shops & discounts on concert or theater tickets too.
    3) Our memberships all come with newsletters or magazines that keep us informed of upcoming events that we might not know about otherwise.
    4) The MOST important reason - it's a flat entry fee for the year. So what we've found is that we'll go more often for shorter, less stressful, periods of time. We don't feel compelled to stay all day and "get our money's" worth. M has been known to stop into the art museum just to see his favorite picture for a few seconds while I'm at the adjacent library. We've gone to the aviary just to feed the lorikeets & nothing else.

    So let's see if this one posts. *sigh* ;-)

  3. Hmmm. In the last few years we have added 2 memberships (Japanese Garden and PAM). One started because we did the math and it made more sense financially to buy a membership than pay each time we planned on visiting that year - then we liked being able to pop in and not feel that we needed to "maximize" our entry fee for the day. The second started because I gave it to myself as a birthday gift and was hoping a membership would spur the "going to the museum" part that I wanted to do...