Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla

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700 Prospect Street, La Jolla, CA 92037
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Open:
Thursday - Sunday 10am to 4pm
Closed Monday - Wednesday
With a focus on both the world & local community, view San Diego’s finest contemporary art through a prism of vibrant galleries & rotating exhibits at the MCASD.
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.
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Experience the Challenge and Impact of Contemporary Art at MCASD La Jolla

Wild Flowers and the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La JollaIconic Art Outside the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla

Discover works of art that will entice and move you at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla!

The museum features a wide range of works from artists across the globe, providing a space for art enthusiasts to discover new favorites and reflect on the important role contemporary art plays in both depicting and shaping the world around

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla

My Opinion: Why You Should Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla

I see contemporary art a lot like sushi, caviar or foie gras. Some people love it, others aren’t big fans, and even more just may not be sure what to think.

For me, it makes me think and starts a conversation. If you like contemporary art or are just interested in a fantastic experience, The La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is for you!

You’ll find a large collection of unique pieces of art from all mediums, including paintings, photos, videos, sculptures, and more. Works from major contemporary art figures stand alongside those from under-recognized artists, providing a platform to all key voices making art in the modern day.

Entrance to the Museum of Photographic Arts
Entrance to the Museum of Photographic Arts

Discounted Admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla

You’ve probably noticed if you’ve looked around our site that I like to not only make sure that you are prepared for your trip to San Diego, but that when you set out for an activity or attractions, that you get the lowest prices possible!

The cheapest tickets to the Museum of Contemporary San Diego, La Jolla are offered with a Go City San Diego pass.

Not only does the Go City San Diego pass offer reduced admission costs to contemporary art museums, it also lets you save when visiting dozens of different attractions across San Diego, including the San Diego Museum of Us, the Museum of Photographic Arts, and the Institute of Contemporary Art San Diego / Central (ICA San Diego/Central) plus many more museums in Balboa Park and throughout the greater San Diego area.

For additional savings, use our discount code GVSD5OFF, and grab the All-inclusive pass for days of fun that won’t hurt your wallet.

Entrance to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Downtown
Entrance to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Downtown

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla’s Sister Location

Please note that if you are looking to visit the sister location, MCASD Downtown, in the heart of Downtown San Diego at the Jacobs Building, the museum is permanently closed and the site as a whole is temporarily closed.

It’s currently being redeveloped and will open as a new San Diego museum in the future!

Local Tips
Tours Designed for Kids
the Museum of Contemporary Art offers plenty of kid-focused educational opportunities for younger visitors. Programs offered include the family-friendly Prebys Play Day and a Teen Advisory Group.

Todd tours a 4-star hotel on the shores of La Jolla Cove, the Grande Colonial La Jolla. This beachside escape dates back to 1913 and combines luxury hotel amenities and an exclusive boutique atmosphere. Be sure to visit Nine-Ten restaurant and bar for some of La Jolla's finest cocktails and cuisine.

Stay at the Grande Colonial La Jolla

What to Expect When Visiting the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, La Jolla

Art in the Entrance of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla
Art in the Entrance of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla

Once the home of Ellen Browning Scripps, and designed by renowned architect Irving Gill in the early 1900s, The Museum of Contemporary Art has undergone many renovations throughout the years.

It first opened its doors as a museum in 1941, and underwent a major restoration project in 1996. In April 2022, the Museum of Contemporary Art reopened after a four-year-long closure for renovations and repairs.

The new campus is designed by architect Annabelle Selldorf and features the repurposing of the old Sherwood Auditorium into a special exhibition space, as well as a reordering of existing exhibits to form a more cohesive experience.

Additionally, during the most recent renovation, the museum quadrupled in size, from 10,000 square feet to an impressive 40,000 square feet! The larger venue means many new exhibits have been added, and many older exhibits that were previously retired due to lack of space have been returned to their rightful places on display.

Whether you’re looking forward to seeing old favorites, hoping something new catches your eye, or visiting for the first time, the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla is sure to entertain and delight art fans of all ages.

Enjoy Art with Go City Pass!
Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla
Museum of Contemporary Art
The Museum of Contemporary Art La Jolla is home to an array of art from the region that range from paintings to photography to sculptures. With your Go City Pass, enjoy these exhibitions and art installations by new up-and-coming artists.
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Local Tips
What’s the best Go City San Diego pass to maximize savings?

Families often choose unlimited admission and save up to 55% with the All-Inclusive pass when they visit just 2 attractions per day over 1, 2, 3 or 5 days.

Locals who prefer flexibility as they go often chose the Explorer Pass and save up to 60% off normal ticket prices.

Want to save more? Use our exclusive discount code GVSD5OFF to save an extra 5%!

Exhibits, Galleries, the Edwards Sculpture Garden, and More

Garden Sculpture at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla
Garden Sculpture at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla

The Museum of Contemporary Art boasts a collection of over 4,700 works of art in all mediums. Every piece of art on display was created after 1950, hence the contemporary nature of the collection.

During your visit, you’ll have the chance to view art from multiple areas of the globe, with a focus on art produced in Latin America and California, especially the San Diego and Tijuana region.

There’s a wide range of representation including installation art, conceptual art, and samples of the minimalism and Pop Art trends that were popularized in the 1960s and 1970s. The museum is continually expanding its collection and rotating its displays, so there’s always something new and exciting to see, no matter how many times you visit.

In addition to the extensive collection lining each room, the Museum of Contemporary Art also has temporary exhibitions that highlight a particular artist, movement, or aspect of contemporary art. These exhibitions provide greater detail on the importance of a selection of works, making them a great educational opportunity!

Tickets Desk at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla
Tickets Desk at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla

Explore the Art Gallery and Learn Something New

As you walk through the dozens of different rooms in the museum, you’ll traverse hallways lined with paintings, but that’s far from the only type of art on display.

Other mediums like sculptures and larger installations are just as common, with many exhibits incorporating photo and video elements as well. The way I see it, no matter your personal preferences and tastes when it comes to art, all visitors are sure to find pieces that speak to them.

Many of the works of art in the museum are designed to evoke strong emotions, while others seek simply to capture the time in which they were created. You can be transported back to the 50s and 60s, when Pop Art dominated American canvasses, or discover art from the past few years that speaks to the social issues of our time.

Contemporary art museums are uniquely able to help visitors discover unsung talents in the art world, many of which are still creating works today. Find your new favorite artist, or use the opportunity to take in a wider range of styles and diverse perspectives that may not be on display at classic art museums.

At the Museum of Contemporary Art, there’s always a new piece of breathtaking art to see, and something new to learn from it.

The Collection Galleries

An exploration of light, abstraction, color, and pop art - the Collection Galleries feature carefully selected works from the museum’s large collection, all of which have been thoughtfully arranged to communicate a message and help museum visitors develop a better understanding of contemporary art.

Since 1969, the Museum of Contemporary Art has been dedicated to collecting the works of twentieth century artists. In the museum’s early days, these included pieces by Miriam Shapiro, Agnes Martin, Ellsworth Kelly, and Larry Bell, many of which have works that are still on display to this day.

Throughout the years, the collection has only expanded, incorporating more modern artists and highlighting artists of different countries that often don’t get as much recognition as their American contemporaries.

Since the recent renovation, each room in the art gallery represents a particular period of art or a specific movement, showcasing select works from the relevant time period.

Rooms may also be themed around a particular artist’s work, a given subject material, or other similarities between works of different decades, showing how artists have sought to depict and influence social movements throughout the years.

The Inaugural Collection installation is on view until April 9, 2024.

Eleanor Antin

San Diego artist Eleanor Antin documented their cross-country trip, from Solana Beach to New York City, with the photograph series - 100 Boots. The staging of the boots and trip took over two years to complete.

Included in the exhibit are pieces by the King of Solana Beach, Antin’s alter ego.

Eleanor Antin is on view until April 14, 2024.

My Barbarian

Works by the theatrical collective My Barbarian (Malik Gaines, Jade Gordon, and Alexandro Segade) deliver many of the same key elements Antin’s conceptual art is known for.

Visitors will see works that reference the legacies of California’s countercultural era, mythical conflicts, social issues, and more.

My Barbarian is on view until April 14, 2024.

The Sculpture Garden

Wander along this seaside garden to view site-specific installations and sculptures.

From steel and glass to plastic and concrete to the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, you won’t want to miss this exhibit.

Forecast Form: Art in the Caribbean Diaspora, 1990s–Today

Over 20 Caribbean and Caribbean-Descendant artists came together to create the first major group exhibit that explores a contemporary art approach to the Caribbean diaspora.

With the 90s as a backdrop, visitors can explore the themes of identity, place, and connectivity.

Forecast opens April 18, 2024 and will be on display until July 28, 2024.

For Dear Life: Art, Medicine, and Disability

A cross of art and science, For Dear Life explores the artistic response to sickness, health, and medicine.

San Diego’s position in both the biotech and pharmaceutical industries and as a hub for health science research will serve as a background for this series that focuses on community and healing.

Like Forecast, this exhibit will be a first of its kind!

For Dear Life: Art, Medicine, and Disability opens September 19, 2024 and will be on display until February 2, 2025.

Activities and Tours Designed for Kids

Sculpture Outside the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla
Sculpture Outside the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla

Contrary to the tired cliché of only stuffy old people being interested in art, many kids find art to be enticing and engaging!

In addition to guided tours of the museum and lectures from the artists themselves, which are geared more toward adults, the Museum of Contemporary Art offers plenty of kid-focused educational opportunities for younger visitors.

Programs offered include the family-friendly Prebys Play Day and a Teen Advisory Group.

Programs for Younger Kids

On the second Sunday of each month, kids are invited to Conrad Prebys Learning Center for a guided exploration of the museum. Prebys Play Day includes a tour of the exhibits geared toward young children, alongside hands-on activities that let kids express their creative sides, and at-your-own-pace guides.

Admission is free, and the museum can even arrange transportation if needed.

Programs Designed for Teens

Designed for older kids, the Teen Advisory Group encourages local teens to learn about not only contemporary art and the museum itself, but also various social issues, all examined through the frame of relevant art on display.

Teens have the opportunity to create their own inspirational multidisciplinary works of art while learning from local artists, art organizations, and museum staff, providing an invaluable resource for any young art enthusiast.

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Grande Colonial La Jolla
Grande Colonial La Jolla
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With a fantastic bar, a relaxing lobby and prime location, experience the charms of this vintage boutique hotel when you stay at Grande Colonial La Jolla.
Prices Starting at $249
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What to Know Before You Visit MCASD La Jolla

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla is in the Perfect Location
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla is in the Perfect Location

I want to make sure that you avoid any unnecessary headaches on your relaxing San Diego vacation or weekend trip to the museum by considering these tips when planning your day.

Entrance to Birch Aquarium
Entrance to Birch Aquarium

Make the Most of Go City San Diego Pass - Visit the Birch Aquarium at Scripps

From sculptures and galleries to coral reefs and sea stars, your visit to La Jolla and MCASD would be nicely complemented with a trip to one of my favorite attractions in all of San Diego, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps!

The aquarium, the public face of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, puts a big focus on hands-on learning and protecting our oceans. With an emphasis on local ocean life, you’re sure to have a very local, family experience as you get up close and personal with a wide variety of sea life.

And the best part, your Go City San Diego All-Inclusive pass will get you into both the museum, aquarium, and over 50 other San Diego attractions at a discounted price!

Use the code GVSD5OFF to save even more!

Free Days

If you’re traveling on a budget, consider taking advantage of the museum’s free days, which are the second Sunday and third Thursday of every month.

Church Across the Street from the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla
Church Across the Street from the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla

Where to Park and How to Get to the Museum

Museum visitors may park for free in front of the museum and on the adjoining streets for up to two hours.

If you don’t have a car, San Diego does offer ride-shares such as Uber and Lyft. You can also reach the museum via one of San Diego’s public buses, the MTS Bus Line #30.

The Grande Colonial La Jolla in the La Jolla Village
The Grande Colonial La Jolla in the La Jolla Village

Where to Stay Nearby

A visit to La Jolla and museum hopping deserves a luxury rest at the Grande Colonial. Established in 1913, the Grande Colonial, La Jolla combines Southern California coastal beauty and historic charm with an intimate boutique feeling.

This is an unparalleled, classic hotel that’s perfect for couples and better yet, about a 5-10-minute walk from the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla and La Jolla Cove.

Gift Shop at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla
Gift Shop at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego La Jolla

Be Respectful of the Art

Exhibits at the museum are not interactive, and no touching of the artwork is permitted to prevent potential damage. Visitors may take photographs, but most exhibits prohibit guests from taking videos. Breaking these rules could result in ejection from the museum without a refund.

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