Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego / Central

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1439 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
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Open:
12:00 to 5:00 pm (Thursday to Sunday)
Closed (Monday to Wednesday)
Experimental art and learning fuse at ICA San Diego to create an engaging space, curated to challenge the community. As their motto says…Question Everything!
Todd Sarouhan
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
ICA San Diego
Local Featured Artists
What to Expect
Explore & Save
Exhibits for 2024
Parking
Know Before You Go
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Highlights

Exhibits / Attractions
Tickets
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Tips
Exhibits / Attractions
Tickets
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Tips

Your Home For Progressive and Experimental Art From Local Featured Artists

The Kitty Ai at the Ica San Diego Central MuseumGenomic Balls Representation at the Ica San Diego Central Museum

The Institute of Contemporary Art, San Diego / Central (ICA San Diego/Central) is committed to experimental arts from local artists for their 2024 season.

With new exhibits, a celebration of Pinar Yoldas, all ages workshops, plus an open call to artists, you may just gravitate to the ICA San Diego inspired and ready for more.

Located in colorful and lush Balboa Park, ICA San Diego is perfectly placed for locals and tourists alike to enjoy. The House of Charm, a Mission Revival-style building, stunningly ornate facade welcomes guests into the grounds.

Once home to the San Diego Art Institute, the space is now dedicated to solo and group exhibitions. A haven for contemporary arts, I find the biggest draw is that the art comes from locals that hail from Los Angeles down to Tijuana.

Take a tour of The Prado, a popular restaurant in Balboa Park serving all flavors of San Diego dishes. The Prado has maintained its reputation of excellence for years, making it an iconic locale.

Go on a Food Tour

What to Expect When Visiting the ICA in 2024

More Photobiorecator Biodegradable Devices at the Ica San Diego Central Museum
More Photobiorecator Biodegradable Devices at the Ica San Diego Central Museum

Visitors to ICA San Diego/Central this year can expect more innovation, unique experiences, and educational programs that support the museum’s mission.

The museum highlights the unique Southern California struggles, virtues, and charm in sometimes challenging, sometimes daring, but always thought-provoking exhibits.

And know too that this museum is more than just art! It’s a dedication to creativity and inspiration through its accessible installations, commissions, classes, and workshops.

The museum is truly an example of the iconic Southern California culture that’s known around the world - community is everything and everyone is welcome to come together to learn, question, and be part of the experience!

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The ICA San Diego/Central Exhibits for 2024

Genetically Modified Gods at the Ica San Diego Central Museum
Genetically Modified Gods at the Ica San Diego Central Museum

The museum is dedicated to offering visitors the most interesting and thought provoking exhibits possible and 2024 line up will not disappoint!

Pinars Pendulum at the Ica San Diego Central Museum
Pinars Pendulum at the Ica San Diego Central Museum

Pinar Yoldas: Synaptic Sculpture

A fusion of neuroscience, architecture, and AI, Dr. Pinar Yoldas' exhibit will ask guests what future could technology create if it allows desire and emotion to be combined within its ever-changing and expanding ability?

This immersive experience will be Yoldas’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States. She’ll produce new projects for the ICA, including a photo bioreactor system that will transform algae into a biodegradable plastic alternative.

“C You Saturday! - Pinar Yoldas” will be on Saturday, February 4th from 4 to 8 PM. RSVP to attend the event for free.

“Dr. Pinar Yoldas: Synaptic Sculpture” will run from February 24th to June 23rd.

Follow the ICA San Diego/Central podcast on Spotify to learn more about the exhibit in a conversation with Dr. Yoldas.

2024 Artists in Residence

This January, ICA San Diego launched a residency program to support local artists with a stipend, monthly materials budget, and professional development opportunities.

The residents will then present their work in a joint exhibit on healing that will take place in ICA San Diego North in their 2025-2026.

Ethan Chan, in Residence, January - June

Chan’s focus on sculpture, performance and installation showcases his love for kitsch and his identity as a self-professed Asian American mutt.

Chan will produce work that highlights the post-pandemic experience of people of color and the isolation and segregation they face in the United States.

David Peña, in Residence, July - December

Peña’s work spotlights his Mexican-American roots with a focus on generational healing.

Peña will explore themes that touch on grief, loss, community, and what we inherit from our ancestral past.

Local Tips
Did you Know
The ICA San Diego was initially founded in 1941 as the San Diego Business Men's Art Club. In 1950 the name was changed to the San Diego Art Institute, and three years later women were allowed membership into the organization. Just recently in 2023 the name was changed again as it merged with the Lux Art Institute in Encinitas. It is now Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego or ICA San Diego.

2024 Educational Programs & Workshops

Another Photobiorecator Biodegradable Device at the Ica San Diego Central Museum
Another Photobiorecator Biodegradable Device at the Ica San Diego Central Museum

ICA Central’s programs deliver big on their commitment to making contemporary art and art education accessible to anyone.

Kids and children alike can explore their creativity and transform their ideas into art.

Next Gen 2023 Ceramic Items at the Ica San Diego Central Museum
Next Gen 2023 Ceramic Items at the Ica San Diego Central Museum

Ceramics Classes for Kids and Adults

Local artists share their expertise and talent with students of all ages. Students can expect 6-week classes that will explore a variety of themes and techniques.

These classes are perfect for beginners, intermediaries, and anyone looking to explore an exciting and enriching craft.

Ceramics Lab Membership

Elevate and expand the skills you learned in class with the Ceramics Lab!

Instruction isn’t available during the labs, but a technician will be on hand to answer questions and provide support.

Art Summer Camp

Calling all young artists! This week-long camp gives children the chance to learn side-by-side with talented teaching artists while also having a chance to explore the art exhibited.

It’s a nurturing combination of inspiration, creativity, and positive mental health.

The Valise Project

Inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s miniature worlds, The Valise Program allows students to interact with our teaching artist in-person or virtually in this 2-hour session.

Filled with curricular connections, The Valise Program offers a unique learning experience.

Explore + Make (K-12)

In a special collaboration between ABX and ICA, students are brought to the two ICA locations (Balboa Park and Encinitas) for a unique field trip experience.

Led by a teaching artist, students will have a tour of the galleries and channel that inspiration into a hands-on activity.

Tour with ICA’s Education Staff

Join a trained ICA Education Staff member for an unparalleled tour experience.

With discussions and tours that are appropriately aimed directly for a range of audiences, students and groups can go deeper into ICA Central’s galleries and more.

Recommended Groups:

  • Pre-K through 8th Grade Students
  • High School Students
  • College Student Groups
  • Adult Community Groups

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Know Before You Visit the Museum

Tips and suggestions about how to make the most of your trip are what we do at Go Visit San Diego. Read on for things you’ll want to know before you arrive.

Entrance to the at the Ica San Diego Central Museum
Entrance to the at the Ica San Diego Central Museum

Get Discounted Admission to Balboa Park's Top Attractions

While the museum does not charge admission, the current suggested donation is $10 for general tickets, $5 for student/senior/military, and free for children 12 and under. With that though, many of the best nearby attractions do have a fee to enter but we can help you save on those costs.

A Go City San Diego Pass lets you buy discounted tickets ahead of time to The Institute of Contemporary Art, San Diego. The pass also grants you access to over 50 attractions and activities in the San Diego area and Balboa Park.

Visit family-friendly museums like The New Children’s Museum or Living Coast Discovery Center. Then end the night on a relaxing Harbor Cruise Tour or a Dinner Cruise that combines seasonal dishes with iconic locations.

Purchase a Go City San Diego Pass at an additional discounted rate when you use our exclusive discount code, GVSD5OFF.

Where to Stay Near The Institute of Contemporary Art, San Diego / Central

There are so many amazing hotels to stay in while in the Balboa Park / San Diego area, that I had a hard time recommending only my absolute favorites!

For me personally, the four below beat out the competition when it comes to location, amenities, family-friendliness, and, of course, the view.

The Westgate Hotel

Indulge in The Westgate Hotel’s lush grandeur and luxury. It’s easy walking distance to ICA Central, The San Diego Opera, and the historic Gaslamp Quarter. The hotel is perfect for couples.

The Lafayette Hotel

This landmark boutique hotel is a family friendly, local favorite! Hang out in The LaFayette Hotel’s iconic pool and channel your inner Tarzan.

I say, come for the history and stay for the newly remodeled resort.

Moxy San Diego Downtown

In the very heart of Downtown San Diego, the Moxy San Diego Downtown is all about location, location, location!

The Moxy provides easy access to popular attractions, restaurants, and the beautiful PETCO Park.

This hotel is also really great for couples who want to be in the center of the action.

Pendry San Diego

The Pendry’s historic Gaslamp Quarter location brings you directly to the front door of many of San Diego’s most popular locations.

Minutes away from the Convention Center, the family friendly boutique hotel also features seasonal menus and activities. The Pendry is also quite family friendly.

Parking and Getting to the Museum

Free parking is available in the Balboa Park parking lots.

Please note, accessibility parking is available in the Alcazar Parking Lot behind The House of Charm.

Public transportation is available via the Number 7 Bus towards 69th & University. ICA Central is about a 6-minute walk from the Park Bl & Village Pl. bus stop.

Photobiorecator Biodegradable Device at the Ica San Diego Central Museum
Photobiorecator Biodegradable Device at the Ica San Diego Central Museum

Be Opened Minded to the Unique World of Contemporary Art

Plan your visit to ICA Central with one thing in mind: the ability to be inspired, challenged, excited, and surprised at every corner.

Book your tickets ahead of time with a Go City San Diego pass and don’t forget to tag us in your ICA photos. Enjoy your visit and don’t forget…

Question Everything!

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Stay Nearby

The Westgate Hotel
Near Cruise Port
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The Westgate Hotel
from $169 / night
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Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
Near Petco Park
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Hard Rock Hotel San Diego
from $189 / night
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The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows
Boutique Hotel
3 Star Rating3 Star Rating3 Star Rating
The Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club & Bungalows
from $127 / night
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