The Magic of Comic-Con Year-Round
For the past 50 years, Comic-Con International has created one of the biggest, most popular conventions of its kind in the world. But the organizers of Comic-Con wanted to do even more to recognize fans and spread the magic of Comic-Con.
They imagined a place where fans could come together to celebrate the things they love, not just for a few days each summer, but all year long. A place where the public could learn about popular arts of which they may not even be aware. A space where everyone is welcome, where old fans and new could enjoy the passion, creativity, and imagination of Comic-Con, while learning about science, technology, art, storytelling, and much more.
That place is the Comic-Con Museum. Unlike traditional institutions, the Museum is not a static collection of artifacts. Rather it is a participatory space focused on bringing together diverse audiences for shared vibrant experiences that showcase comics, film, science/fiction, fantasy, TV shows, books, video games, anime, and other related popular arts.
With immersive exhibits that change seasonally, hands-on STEAM based art making activities, panels, movie screenings, and other dynamic programming, you will always find something new and exciting to explore.
Mission and History
The SAN DIEGO COMIC CONVENTION (Comic-Con International) is a California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation organized for charitable purposes and dedicated to creating the general public’s awareness of and appreciation for comics and related popular art forms, including participation in and support of public presentations, conventions, exhibits, museums and other public outreach activities which celebrate the historic and ongoing contribution of comics to art and culture.
The vision of the Comic-Con Museum is to:
- Thrive as a world-class attraction and gateway to the popular arts, and life-long learning for San Diego residents and visiting tourists.
- Enhance the economic strength of the community
- Become a recognized leader in education by teaching in nontraditional settings and through the lens of the popular arts
- Positively impact and engage the community through collaborative arts and education activities
The Comic-Con Museum opened to the public on November 26, 2021, fulfilling Comic-Con’s long term vision to create a permanent space in San Diego to celebrate comics and related popular arts year round. To date, the Museum has featured over 11 exhibits ranging from Gene Roddenberry: Sci-Fi Visionary to Eight Decades of Archies and the Pac-Man Arcade to Marvel’s Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing The Exhibition, the illustrations of Charles Addams, and the creative art of the Cardboard Superheroes.
The Comic-Con Museum Education Center officially opened in September of 2022, offering learning opportunities to all guests, including students from Title I schools in San Diego County.
Our public programming to date has included comic book author lectures, art classes, book signings, and educational panels based on science fiction becoming reality.
The Museum is a division of Comic-Con. A long-standing San Diego institution, Comic-Con began in 1970 when a small group of comics, movie, and science fiction fans from San Diego put on an event attended by just 300 people. Since then, Comic-Con has grown into a global phenomenon and is widely recognized as the premier popular arts convention in the world. For more information about Comic-Con, please visit https://comic-con.org/.
As the first new museum to open in San Diego’s historic Balboa Park in 27 years, the Museum is projected to have a significant impact on San Diego’s arts and culture and tourism industries. Routine economic studies conducted by the San Diego Convention Center over the last eight years have consistently found Comic-Con’s San Diego convention generates over $140 million for the local economy on an annual basis. During our first year of operations, the Museum has welcomed over 125,000 annual visitors from throughout the United States and the world, demonstrating the power of the popular arts to bring people together. As the Museum enters its second year of operations and the world continues to recover from the global pandemic, we expect our economic impact and impact on the community to continue.
Balboa Park, a 1,200-acre urban park located adjacent to downtown San Diego, is home to 17 museums and cultural institutions with an incredible diversity of collections. From local San Diego history, to the history of flight, trains, or automobiles, to the workmanship of the old masters, and the arts, crafts, and culture of people near and far, recent and historical – there is no shortage of things to see and do.
The Comic-Con Museum is located in the area of Balboa Park known as the Palisades. Our nearest neighbors are the Air and Space Museum, Automotive Museum, Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, and the public Gymnasium.
To plan your visit to Balboa Park, please visit the official website.
The Federal Building
The Federal Building, constructed in 1935, originally served as a hall to house U.S. Government Exhibits during the California Pacific International Exposition, the second of Balboa Park’s two major Expos. The building was always meant to be a permanent fixture with visions of it converting to a civic theater, or a convention center for the City of San Diego.
Serving a variety of roles over the decades—from Naval Barracks for 1,400 men during World War II to Badminton Headquarters—the building was modernized in the mid-1990’s to house the Hall of Champions, a multi-sport museum, that operated inside the building until June 2017.
In late 2017, Comic-Con entered into a long-term lease with the City of San Diego to transform the Federal Building into a year-round museum focused on the popular arts. After almost $6 million in capital improvements, including a new roof, the Comic-Con Museum opened its doors to the public on November 26, 2021.
Although the building itself is not listed as a historic structure, it, and more specifically its front facade, are considered a part of the National Historic Landmark and National Historic Landmark District status granted to Balboa Park in 1977. Balboa Park is also on the National Register of Historic Places.
For a more detailed history of the Federal Building, visit https://sandiegohistory.org/archives/amero/federal/ to learn more.