No cost for cultural history

The Orange County Museum of Art will join 20 Southern California arts venues during the ninth annual Museums Free-For-All.

Between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday, patrons can enter the Newport Beach location at no charge. Along with free admission to its galleries, OCMA will also offer a docent-led tour at 1 p.m.

About 40,000 people pass through the museum's doors every year, with weekends bringing maximum foot traffic. Despite this, OCMA also provides free general admission on the second Sunday of each month.

"We have participated in this event off and on over the years whenever possible and were particularly happy to offer it this year, as we have paintings, prints and photography from our collection that show how the California landscape has been represented over the past century," said Kirsten Schmidt, director of communications and marketing.

Museums Free-For-All day is the brainchild of the Museums Marketing Roundtable, which was created by Los Angeles-area communications officials after Sept. 11, 2001. Shortly thereafter, it took out a full-page advertisement in the Los Angeles Times, declaring, "We share a vision to inspire and, at times like these, heal and fortify the human spirit. We welcome you."

Five years later, the group launched this venture, which is now organized every year. For a few years, it was hosted in the fall but then switched to January to commemorate Los Angeles Arts Month.

The Annenberg Space for Photography, the Getty Center, the Hammer Museum, California Science Center and Museum of Latin American Art are among the venues taking part in Museums Free-For-All.

This type of occasion encourages a celebration of local culture, Schmidt remarked.

"It encourages people who are not familiar with the museum to check it out, [and] it is also essential to make these offers for those who might not be able to come otherwise," she said. "It's very important to OCMA that the community visit the museum to embrace culture, sometimes local, sometimes national and international.

"In this case, to see work by many artists from our area and artworks that depict the region in which we all live."

If You Go

What: "Free-For-All" Free Admission Day

Where: Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Drive, Newport Beach

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday

Cost: Free

Information: or (949) 759-1122

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