Event FAQs

Welcome! We have compiled a list of frequently asked questions about event bookings, and hope this information answers all of your queries. If we’ve missed anything, please don’t hesitate to contact us. The Special Events office is open Monday-Friday, from 8 AM – 4 PM, and closed on holidays. We can be reached at events@sdnhm.org or 619.255.0182.

Do you have free Wifi?

Yes, the Museum and Balboa Park have free Wifi access. 


Can I come in to brainstorm with friends and vendors?

Of course. Anytime. Just let us know when you’ll be coming in and we’ll leave you complimentary admissions passes. Please visit our website for public hours of operations.


Do you require security for events?

We require museum security for all events. Security needs may vary based on guest count and event style. If your event requires additional security, we can provide vendor recommendations.


How do I get in touch with you?

Contact us at events@sdnhm.org or 619.255.0182.


What is the capacity of the Museum?

The Museum has four floors and a rooftop. The capacity of each floor varies based on the event set-up. Total Museum capacity cannot exceed 1,800 guests. If you have a larger event, we would be happy to share other options available in Balboa Park. 


What are the rules about the set-up and drop-off of decor?

Our events team will work with you to create a schedule for set-up and breakdown. Typically, load-in is scheduled for 2.5 hours before the event and included with venue rental fees.

Our team can also help coordinate any items that need to be dropped off earlier or require additional time.


What are the rental fees?

It depends on your event size and scope; our fees are based on spaces used for the event and duration. For instance, our board room hourly rate is $200 vs. our per-floor rate of $1,500.


Do you have a private green room and/or wedding party suite?

Yes. We have a large private space available near our rooftop ceremony area to accommodate up to 50 guests.


What is included with the rental fees?

  • It includes usage of our in-house sound system, wireless mic and internet, catering kitchen, security staff, cleaning fee, and access to a green room.

  • We have a terrific event team to help you manage and plan your event. Plus, the events team will be available to help greet and guide guests the night of your event.

  • We are a unique venue space with a small inventory of furnishings, which are available to rent. If interested in a specific design that we do not carry, it must be rented from a preferred partner. A list of event rental companies can be found online on our preferred partner page.

How's the HVAC system?

High tech! It cools quickly in the summer and is nice and toasty in the winter. 


What does your hold and booking process look like?

You can put a 30-day, no-cost courtesy hold on any one available date you'd like. This must be done in writing via email. The hold starts the day you confirm your request or visit the Museum. Once 30 days have passed, if there's another party interested in the same date, you will have 48 hours to make your decision. We will honor you hold until another party challenges. If you decide to move forward, contact our events team to receive a venue contract.


How many tables, chairs, and highboys do you have available for rent?

We have a good selection of equipment. This includes: 30 60” round tables, 15 6' tables, one 4' table, 18 28" highboys, 20 48” round table, and four 28” cabaret tables. Please ask for a rental rate sheet. 


How much is the security retainer?

There is a $500 nonrefundable retainer once you confirm your date and event.


Are you wheelchair accessible?

Absolutely. The building has elevators to accommodate guests on every floor. 


Is insurance required?

  • Yes, you must have insurance for your event. In addition, each vendor is required to provide an insurance certificate with the San Diego Natural History Museum listed as additionally insured.

  • Many insurance companies provide liability insurance for weddings and other events.

  • We can help you through the process and offer a list of recommended insurance companies.

What's the bathroom situation?

We have restrooms accessible on every floor of the Museum. 


How many events per day do you hold?

Just yours.


Do you have someone onsite during our event?

Yes, you will be introduced to your Museum liaison about a month before your soiree. 


Is there parking available?

The Nat is surrounded by many free parking options, the closest is on the east side of the building just a few steps from the both entrances. Parking is allowed until 2 AM. You can also contract a valet parking company for an additional fee.


Can we have our dog be part of our wedding ceremony?

Yes, Balboa Park is pet friendly and so are we. We do require that all furry friends have a designated companion to attend to their needs.


Who is allowed to cater to the Museum?

The Nat has an approved list of caterers who all provide full-service catering and are highly skilled and experienced at working in our venue. Visit our website to explore a list of vendors


Do you take commission from other vendors?

Absolutely not. 


Who is allowed to pour alcohol at the Museum?

The Nat has a liquor license, and all bartending services must be managed by the Museum. All Museum bartenders are trained and certified with Serve Safe.


We've booked The Nat and we're starting to look at room blocks at local hotels. Do you have any recommendations?

We don’t have a preferred hotel list, but for convenience and experience, we recommend booking a hotel downtown. 


Are we allowed to buy our own alcohol?

No, all alcohol must be purchased through your bar package. Contact our events team for more information on packages and bar estimates.


Can we bring in additional decor? Who will be responsible for setting it up and when would that happen?

Yes, you can bring your own decor. You will be responsible for setting it up and tearing it down. 


How late can our reception go and are there any noise ordinances?

Your event must end by 2 AM, but most events take place between the hours of 6 AM and midnight. All music, bar, and food service must end 30 minutes before the end of your event.


Are sparklers and candles allowed?

Open flames and sparklers are not allowed in the Museum. LED lights are welcomed.


We'd really like to have a band perform at our party. Is that allowed?

Yes. The recommended max guest count with a band is 250 for the atrium.


Can we hold a short rehearsal the day before the event?

Yes, as long as the space is available.


Where does my DJ or band set up?

There are numerous spots throughout the Museum to set up your music. The Museum also offers unique equipment packages—including a stage—for your DJ or band. 


When can we come in for a tour?

We give tours by appointment only. Monday-Friday between 8 AM and 1 PM are ideal.