Members only

Didn’t s/he say that what s/he really wanted was to spend more time together? And those kids. They’re growing up so fast. Before you know it, they’ll be ditching you for all-ages (read: all ages but yours) shows on the St. Mary’s strip and your family time will be indistinguishable from an on-demand limo service. The antidote? Keep San Antonio (Gold) Lamé and preschedule quality face time with a gift that includes built-in (play)dates. Note that each of these organizations offers additional membership options, so be sure to visit the website or call the numbers below (many of them member hotlines) and ask lots of questions before you sign on the dotted line. Family-level memberships usually cover two adults and all underage kids in the household.

San Antonio Museum of Art

200 W. Jones, (210) 978-8133,

SAMA is San Antonio’s requisite jack-of-all trades/master of none, but under its most recent leadership it has concentrated its efforts in some particularly enticing areas — early Asian artifacts, including some rare and exceptional pottery; Latin-American art; and a redo of its Greek and Roman galleries to better show off the sculpture — and thanks to the newly endowed chair for modern and contemporary art, curator David Rubin is bringing the museum solidly into the 20th century. The new Lenora and Walter F. Brown Asian wing is an airy, contemporary complement to the historic Lone Star Brewery building that houses the other collections. Don’t miss out on the next great touring show — remember Retratos and the Botero retrospective?

Basic membership: $35 artist and
educator, $45 single, $75 family

Entitles the recipient to unlimited free admission, the View newsletter, a 10-percent discount in the museum gift shop, invitations to members-only previews, and is 100-percent deductible.

Supersize it: Need to make a bigger splash with a roving, culturally minded Texan? Gift an Associate Membership for $250, which allows your giftee entrance for two, plus two guests, and entitles the bearer to admission at other participating Lone Star museums, including Fort Worth’s stunning Modern.

Marion Koogler
McNay Art Museum

6000 N. New Braunfels, (210) 805-1755,

The McNay is easily San Antonio’s most beautiful museum, and although the average guest’s age at the annual galas hovers near August temps, view this not as a problem, but an opportunity. Get your friends in on the ground floor now, and y’all could be running the board in a decade. The original building, the barely modified 1920s Spanish Colonial Revival home of its namesake heiress and arts patron, sits on 23 acres of sculpture-dotted rolling green in the heart of Alamo Heights/Terrell Hills. Modern masterpieces by the greats, from Gauguin to Renoir to O’Keeffe (and including a significant Picasso collage) are still the heart of the collection, but the sharp eye of Chief Curator Rene Barilleaux is shaping the growing post World War II collection to fit the new wing, SA’s entry in the Texas planes-and-glass museum oeuvre. The McNay also has a notable collection of works on paper, including prints by Goya, Picasso, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Jasper Johns, and an outstanding theater-arts collection and library.

Basic membership: $45 single, $75 family

Entitles the recipient to free admission to the museum and most paid special exhibitions, plus special events, including the Get Reel film series, the annual print fair, members-only previews and receptions. Members also get a 10-percent discount in the gift shop, and a subscription to the newsletter Impressions.

Supersize it: Give the gift of highbrow hobnob with a membership to the McNay Contemporary Collectors Form ($275-400, depending on age, includes a McNay Supporting-level membership). The group travles, hosts artist talks, adds to the museum’s collection, and more.

Witte Museum

3801 Broadway, (210) 357-1863,

Sure, the Witte stole Native American bones back in the original Maverick days, but everyone was doing it. It was called archeology. The 21st-century version of the Texophile museum sticks to less-controversial cadavers, such as mummies and the wildly popular dinosaur and Chinese bodies exhibits. This is a great museum for parents, whose kids will find something to pester them about repeatedly (the small working sluice and dam, the H-E-B Science Treehouse, the Fiesta gowns, etc.). A planned expansion that will fully embrace adjacent Brackenridge Park and the San Antonio River flowing through its backyard is guaranted to increase the Witte’s weekend-adventure appeal.

Basic membership: $35 individual, $55 senior family (perfect for grandparents, who get to bring underage grandkids along), $60 family

Entitles the holder to unlimited free admission, a subscription to the quarterly newsletter, invitations to members-only exhibit previews and the annual holiday party, discounts on special programs, including Adventure Club and Overnight Camp-Ins for children, special members-only discounts on children’s birthday parties, discounts on purchases from the Witte Museum Store, and a $2 discount on movie tickets at San Antonio IMAX Theatre Rivercenter.

Supersize it: Give the Explorer Membership for $250, and your beloved gets his or her name on the donor wall — which will surely impress the two guests they can bring along when they visit — as well as reciprocal membership at fellow Time Traveler museums far (New York Historical Society) and near (the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum).

Jump-Start Performing Arts Center

108 Blue Star, (210) 227-JUMP,

Were it not for Jump-Start, untold numbers of gay SA artists might yet labor in the closet or, worse, in anonymity. Jump-Start’s raison d’être is to create new performance-based theater works, and it’s unrivaled locally in its willingness to experiment with avant-garde technology, marginalized voices (Saddam Hussein in purgatory!), and productions that don’t fit neatly into classic slots such as “dance” or “drama.” There is no fourth wall at Jump-Start and one of its many advantages is that audience members can participate in the development of new pieces over time through the Works-in-Progress and Electric Performance Lab feedback sessions.

Basic membership: $30 artist, student, senior, $50 individual, $100 household (up to four cohabitators)

Entitles the bearer to a 50-percent discount on all Jump-Start performances, named listed in programs, invitations to members-only mixers.

Supersize it: Give a $300 Generator membership and your recipient will receive complimentary admission to Jump-Start’s glam opening-night galas and a Jump-Start totebag.

Blue Star
Contemporary Art Center

116 Blue Star, (210) 227-6960,

Two decades old and counting, Blue Star is SA’s main hub for contemporary (p)art(y), showing emerging and mid-career local artists alongside more established national and international touring shows, and anchoring the monthly First Friday melee of openings and beer-drinking. In the past two years, Blue Star has expanded its educational programming to introduce the joys of conceptual and post-conceptual art to the next generation.

Basic membership: $25 artist individual, $35 artist couple, $40 single, $60 couple

Entitles you to the Blue Star newsletter, invitations to members-only events and exclusive after-parties, plus a 10-percent discount on Blue Star swag and at local eateries/drinkeries, including the adjacent Blue Star Brewery, Madhatters, and Beto’s Comida Latina.

Supersize it:Give a little glitzy art glam with the Blue Star Contemporaries membership — $250 single; $350 double — which grants entrée to insider-art events such as the intimate Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner nosh-and-natter series.

Southwest School
of Art & Craft

300 Augusta & 1201 Navarro, (210) 224-1848,

This ain’t your grandmother’s crochet sampler. The Southwest School of Art & Craft’s historic campus, on the grounds of the 19th-century Ursuline Academy and Convent rivals the
McNay in beauty — and clocks it for accessibility: You can wander up to the beautiful limestone buildings from the River Walk, past the welcoming new mosaic bench honoring arts patron Bernard Lifshutz. The bench’s inscription makes the strongest case for giving one of these memberships: Ars longa. Vita brevis. As its name implies, Southwest School offers a slate of award-winning arts classes in almost any medium you can name, and the adjacent modern Navarro campus is home to consistently stellar exhibits showcasing artists who explore the elastic boundary between kitschy hobbies and timeless works of the soul.

Basic memberships:$45 Individual Supporter, $35 Senior Supporter, $75 Family

Entitles the bearer to a 10-percent discount on arts classes, a 10-percent discount at the gift shop (plus one 20-percent holiday-season discount), and invitations to lectures, exhibitions, and other events.

Supersize it: Turn your gift recipient into a Bronze Angel for $250, and you can also attend one of Fiesta’s most popular events, the Fiesta Arts Fair, together using his/her complimentary pair of tickets.

Putting on the Ritz

What’s that old saying? The brain is the body’s biggest erogenous zone. So think of three hours at the opera as the automatic reciprocal gift. Or perhaps you’re looking for an activity you can take the kids to that doesn’t require earplugs and a Xanax boilermaker.

A night at the opera

$40-$110 per ticket
(210) 225-5972,

The San Antonio Opera’s Thanksgiving weekend performance of Cavalleria Rusticana is sold out, so if you plan to treat your snugglebunny or grandmother to Gilbert and Sullivan’s burlesque comic opera, The Mikado (March 20-22), or Verdi’s rousing, tragic Il Trovatore (June 12-14), don’t delay.

Hop on Pops

$10-60 per ticket
(210) 554-1010,

The San Antonio Symphony’s annual holiday concert (December 19-21) is musically sophisticated and family-friendly.

Family ties

$20 general admission; $10 student
(210) 999-8524,

Impress the intellectual boy you picked up at the gym, or plumb old sibling wounds while the family’s in town at AtticRep’s production of Sam Shepard’s True West, starring two of SA’s strongest stage actors, Rick Frederick and Andy Thornton.