Six Reasons to Visit the McNay Art Museum Right Now

Two weeks ago, my boys and I visited the McNay Art Museum for the first time. We drive by weekly, eyeing the beautiful sculptures, and were waiting for a time to visit that wasn’t a burning inferno of hotness. Finally, with no end to the hot party in sight, we dove in. And it was incredible. Here are a few reasons you should spend some of your day languishing on its 25-acre grounds before summer’s true end and a few of the spring exhibits close.

Blue Star Museums Programs and SO Many Opportunities for FREE Admission

Through Labor Day (September 5) and as part of the Blue Star Museums program, active-duty military, veterans, and their families (up to five family guests) receive free general admission. Children 12 and under, regardless of military affiliation, recipients of SNAP, WIC, and MAP are also free (as long as you present your EBT card and a photo ID).

For the rest of you lovelies, experience free general admission every Thursday from 4–9:00 p.m. and the first Sunday of every month from noon to 5:00 p.m. Or, if you hold a Bank of America or Merrill Lynch credit or debit card, present it along with your ID on the first full weekend of every month for one free general admission.

If you attend, teach, or work for Alamo Colleges, Our Lady of the Lake University, St. Mary’s University, Texas A&M University—SA, Trinity University, UTSA, or the University of the Incarnate Word, flash your school ID for free general admission also.

So many options to make free art happen! For more detailed information about visiting and ticketing, please click here.

Donald Moffett + Nature Cult + The McNay

Running through September 11, this special exhibit caught our eye immediately, marrying art mediums that encompass all aspects of the natural (nature) environment. Moffett’s body of work is displayed alongside the museum’s other collections (like one of my favorites, Monet’s Nympheas (Water Lilies)) and everyday items Moffett has integrated from his own home. It’s vibrant and needed in this late summer heat.

The Art of SA Eats/Sabor a San Antonio

Likewise, ending on September 4, this special exhibit brought such joy to our summery adventure. With its colorful vision and scope of some of the most distinct culinary offerings from San Antonio, I love that these five artists brought their creative (appetizing) arts out in the form of SATX food favorites. It made our crew so happy, but also in immediate need of paletas.

“Chicho Boys” by Eva Marrengo Sanchez, McNay Art Museum

Georgia O’Keefe and American Modernism

Growing up in New Mexico, and forever longing to visit O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch to observe firsthand where she created her most passionate works, I loved seeing this exhibit. A little bit of home goes a long way, and O’Keefe’s work, like Pink and Yellow Hollyhocks, has always captured the colors and feelings of New Mexico and its landscape in a way I could never fully articulate. Luckily, the exhibit has been extended into December.

Find Space on the Steps in the Courtyard

The unexpected quiet beauty of this former Spanish Colonial-Revival House (thanks to the historic generosity of foundress Marion McNay) and its courtyard are my favorite aspects of the museum. With its lush vegetation, azure-sky-framing architecture, and long-tall palms, it is such a departure from the city-hot-hustle that we drive in from that I relish every corner. It’s serene, and its vibrancy is effortless: a mini-break from the daily “everything.”

Courtyard Oasis, McNay Art Museum

Visit the Sculpture Garden

Green spaces and outdoor art are certain to create conversation and movement. As summer spools into (hopefully) cooler weather, the McNay Sculpture Garden, spanning vast acreage and home to a Japanese-inspired garden, is a place I hope we can spend more afternoons. Newly acquired History of the Conquest (enter, child riding a giant snail) by Hank Willis Thomas greeted us as we strolled along the paths and amongst the sculptures. My boys loved the nature-centric art and the lushness of the parklands, and they wished the fountains were for swimming. At once gorgeous and transport-worthy (meaning we left the city for a greener space), we dipped in and out amongst the outdoor art like tourists.

Robert Indiana’s LOVE, McNay Art Museum

All this to say: go for a visit. So many reasons to go before Labor Day, but so many other reasons to continue visiting year-round as they bring in new exhibits (like Something Wicked, displaying 30 costumes from Broadway’s beloved musical).


Jacey Blue Renner is a freelance writer & poet who holds an MFA from Lesley University. Most recently you can find her work in San Antonio Magazine. As a USAF spouse, she has moved extensively with her family, but would've stayed in the UK (the island love of her life), forever. She uses words & running to keep her grounded. Her boy crew is an inspiration on how to live fully. Currently stationed in SATX, her family is her complete heart. Favorite Restaurant: La Fonda on Main. Favorite Landmark: The Pearl. Favorite San Antonio Tradition: Battle of FlowersParade.