Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Downtown

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1100 Kettner Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
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Open:
11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Thursday - Tuesday)
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego celebrates contemporary art in a unique and intimate manner in both its Downtown San Diego and La Jolla locations.
Museum of Contemporary Art - Downtown
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Exhibits / Attractions
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Learn about the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

With over 4,700 works dating from 1950 to present day, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is one of the largest celebrations of the arts of our time. The museum is spread across two venues — one in the Core-Columbia District in Downtown San Diego in the baggage building of the historic Santa Fe Depot and one in scenic La Jolla — and provides an unparalleled interactive art experience for the community.

Though exhibitions are always changing, MCASD visitors can always expect to find a dynamic program of both solo and collective exhibitions from artists that specialize in a variety of media, including painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, video, mixed media and more.

MCASD has an honorable reputation of commissioning works by local artists and later acquiring them as a part of its permanent collection. It doesn’t discriminate in its commissioning, either, and collects works from promising emerging artists, mid-career artists, under-recognized artists and major players in contemporary art alike.

Though the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego always strives to represent past, present and emerging artistic trends, its particular strength lies in its collection of minimalist and Pop Art from the 1960s and 1970s. It also boasts a strong collection of Latin American art and art from the San Diego and Tijuana regions.

MCASD has an ongoing acquisition program supported by donation, gift and purchase. Most acquisitions are done to augment the museum’s permanent collection, though some are purely in support of particular sects of art, including Latin American art and emerging artists.

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What to Expect When You Visit

Though called “small” by some visitors, the MCASD contains works that pack a big punch.

Each collection or work within the exhibits was carefully chosen by the museum curators to support an ongoing or present initiative. Whether that is to support the Latin American art culture, shine light on injustices within the community, spread hope or inspire action, you will find pieces that do it all within the walls of the historic depot and the (nearly) renovated La Jolla location.

It is important to note that, like many contemporary works, the works in the MCASD are political in nature. Additionally, the message behind a piece is not always clear. Some arts do require an explanation.

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Exhibits & Attractions

Due to recent events, many of the exhibits at the Downtown San Diego location have been postponed. Likewise, because the La Jolla museum is under renovation, it has not showcased any artworks in recent months. However, when the downtown location reopens, the museum has two exciting exhibitions waiting for you:

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Educators
MCASD offers fun and engaging programs designed to support educators in bringing the arts into classrooms and other learning environments.

Prospect 2021

Every year, MCASD’s curatorial staff puts together an eclectic exhibition that showcases works from both the permanent collection and artworks up for consideration. The year’s prospects reflect the museum’s current interests as well as the most current trends and perspectives in contemporary art. The target audience of the event is the Contemporary and International Collectors group, which gifts

artworks and makes considerable donations toward the museum.

2021’s event will feature works of diverse mediums, including photography, drawing, painting and mixed media.

To Tame a Wild Tongue: Art After Chicanismo

This collective features art from more than 25 artists and uses the Chicano Movement as its point of departure. Though not all the artists identify as Chicano/a/x, as those of the Chicano Movement did, each explores the cultural, social and political issues related to Mexican Americans’ plight in the United States and across the border. The exhibit spans the Wortz and Farrell galleries and is split into five sections: Labor, activism, the border, rasquachismo and domesticana.

Educational Programs

Tours

Visitors get a chance to gain hands-on experience with the exhibits as well as participate in lively discussions regarding the art via scheduled tours. Tours are available to the public, school groups, community groups and adult groups.

Educators

These workshops are designed to support educators’ missions to bring arts into the classroom.

Family ArtLab

Families with children between the ages of 5 and 11 can partake in a hands-on exploration of art processes and materials, as well as participate in thoughtful conversations regarding on-view pieces.

Sessions in Contemporary Art

This four-part, seminar-style course is designed to provide life-long learners an opportunity to get back in the classroom and learn about the enticing subject that is contemporary art.

Perspectives

Perspectives gives visitors a chance to learn about the on-view pieces from three different perspectives: The artist’s, the curator’s and the outsider’s.

Lectures

MCASD puts on two lectures on an annual basis: The Russell Lecture and the Axline Lecture. Both lectures are designed to educate, garner appreciation for modern art and raise funds for the museum.

A.M.P.

Contemporary Art: Media and Processes is a week-long workshop for 7-12-year-olds who want to explore the world of contemporary art by making some of it on their own. C.A.M.P. encourages participants to make use of out-of-the-box materials and processes to create something beautiful and thought-provoking.

Artist Residency

The museum opens its studio to artists who want to experiment with new processes and modes of expression.

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Know Before You Go

  • The museum does not have its own parking. You must find parking in Downtown San Diego, either in a lot or along the street.
  • Each ticket is good for seven days and grants access to both the downtown location and the La Jolla site.
  • Admission is free for military service members, MCASD members and individuals 25 and under.
  • All galleries are wheelchair accessible.
  • All materials are available in both English and Spanish.

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