Location: Balboa Park (3 Miles Northeast of Downtown San Diego)
Open Daily: 10AM – 4:30PM. (Opens at 1:30PM on Sundays). Closed on Mondays and Holidays.
Features: World-Class Collection from European Masters (especially Dutch and Flemish), American Art, and Russian Icons; One of the Great Small Museums of the World
Timken Museum of Art Highlights: Whether you love art or have yet to be exposed to it, this is a must see museum. If you love art, you can appreciate these classic masterpieces from the 13th through 19th centuries. If you have not been exposed to art before, this is a great place to get started since it is Free, Small, and Excellent.
Plan to spend up to an hour in the Museum. There are over 60 pieces, which used to be housed in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. and the Metropolitan Art Museum in New York. The collections belonged to the Putnam sisters, who were heirs to the Timken family of Ohio and lived in San Diego. The sisters established a foundation that created the Timken Museum and brought their works of art together under one roof. (Note: You will find additional works of art of from European Masters in the adjacent San Diego Art Museum.)
Timken Art Collection – Learn about all of the pieces in the Timken Collection. Pictures, descriptions, and the stories behind each piece are provided online. Just a few of the notable artists include Rembrandt, Rubens and Boucher.
Timken Exhibitions – From time-to-time, the Museum host a small, high-quality exhibition.
Tours – Tours are available from volunteers. They are free and last up to an hour. They are available on weekdays from 10AM – 12PM. Additional times are available on weekday afternoons and on some Saturdays. Check the Events Calendar noted below for times.
Audio Tours – You can obtain a detailed audio recording for a nominal fee at the front entrance.
Events Calendar – Guest Lectures, Storytelling, and other Special Events highlight the works of art.
Food – There is no food available in the Timken Museum. Sculpture Court Cafe is just outside the Art Museum, which is next to the Timken. It offers a wide selection of hot foods with a large seating area underneath a pavilion as well as a grassy courtyard under the sun. If you are looking for something more than what is offered in a cafe, Balboa Park’s Prado Restaurant is more of an upscale full service restaurant. You can read more about the food options on the Balboa Park web site.
No Smoking is allowed in or around the Timken Museum.
Information on Visiting the Timken Museum of Art
- Parking is Free
- Entry is Free
Directions from Google Maps to 1500 El Prado in San Diego, CA 92101. Google will recommend surface streets through business and residential areas to reach the Timken Art Museum. This is fine. However, if you want to avoid residential streets and gain easier access to larger parking lots, use the directions for 2215 Pan American Road, which will put you right at the corner of Presidents Way and Pan American Road noted in the parking section below.
Parking – There is a parking lot in front of the Timken Art Museum. However, this small parking lot fills up quickly. The closest large parking lot is at the corner of Presidents Way and Pan American Road. (Note: Do not make a right turn at the first street you see after turning on to Presidents Way from Park Boulevard. It does not access the parking lot even though it looks like it should.) Once you park, you can walk about 100 yards up a small hill and find the Museum on your right. You can also take the free Balboa Park Tram from the street corner up to the Prado stop, which is right in front of the Museum.
If you don’t want to deal with parking hassles, especially during the summer and on weekends, go to the large parking lots on the opposite side of Park Boulevard. They are on Presidents Way on the east side of Park Boulevard, away from the museums. The Tram starts at the end of the driveway and circulates every 10 minutes from 8:30AM – 6PM daily with extended hours during the summer and special occasions.
Traffic – Unless there is a major event at Balboa Park, which occurs a few times during the year, getting in and out of Balboa Park is relatively easy using Park Boulevard. If you approach Balboa Park using southbound SR-163, traffic occasionally backs up a little over a mile before reaching the Park Boulevard Exit, which is the same exit for the I-5 northbound. However, the delay will only take a few extra minutes. Likewise, if you are planning to get on SR-163 northbound after leaving Balboa, plan on a short delay during the mid and late afternoon hours as a few entrance ramps merge together before reaching the highway. (Learn how to get the latest traffic updates.)
Transit - Buses serving Balboa Park drop passengers off on Park Boulevard near the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Museum of Natural History. The stop is underneath a pedestrian bridge, which you can take to reach the Timken Art Museum at the other end of the Pedestrian Mall. (See San Diego Transit Information for the downtown transit map, which includes Balboa Park, and information for the online Transit Planner.)
You can also get off the bus at Presidents Way to catch the Free Balboa Park Tram. The Tram starts at the end of the driveway, on the east side of Presidents Way and circulates every 10 minutes from here to the main circle at the Prado stop, in front of the Art Museum. The Tram runs from 8:30AM – 6PM daily with extended hours during the summer and special occasions.
Balboa Park Map – The map shows a listing of all Balboa Park Museums, attractions, bus and tram stops, and places to eat. You should also print out the Balboa Park Tram Map from the City of San Diego. It is not as detailed but is helpful because it includes names on each of the buildings. With the other map, you need to use a map key to find the name of a building.