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Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

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Established  1941 (1941)
Website  mcasd.org
Founded  1941
Type  Art Museum
Phone  +1 858-454-3541
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
Former name  The Art Center in La Jolla, La Jolla Art Museum, La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art
Location  San Diego, California, US
Address  700 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037, USA
Hours  Closed now Tuesday11AM–5PMWednesdayClosedThursday11AM–5PMFriday11AM–5PMSaturday11AM–5PMSunday11AM–5PMMonday11AM–5PMSuggest an edit
Similar  San Diego Museum of Art, Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Museum of Man, San Diego Automotive Museum, Old Globe

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (or MCASD), in San Diego, California, US, is an art museum focused on the collection, preservation, exhibition, and interpretation of works of art from 1950 to the present.


El anatsui at museum of contemporary art san diego


Founded in 1941 in La Jolla as The Art Center in La Jolla, a community art center, through the 1950s and 1960s the organization operated as the La Jolla Art Museum. The museum was originally the 1915 residence of newspaper heiress and philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps, designed by the noted architect Irving Gill.

In the early 1970s, the name changed to the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art, focusing the purview on the period from 1950 to the present. In 1990, the Museum changed its name to San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, only to change it to Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, after confusion developed between its name and the San Diego Museum of Art. The new name also acknowledged the larger geographic context and the population base of nearly 3 million in San Diego County, and opened a $1.2-million satellite facility downtown in 1993, further embracing the region.

In 1996, a major $9.2 million renovation and expansion of MCASD La Jolla took place, designed by Robert Venturi of the firm Venturi Scott Brown & Associates. Venturi's 30,000 square feet (2,800 square metres) addition included four more galleries, doubling the museum's exhibition space to 10,000 square feet (930 square metres). It also expanded the museum's educational space, storage space, bookstore library and restaurant. It transformed the garden into an outdoor exhibition space for sculpture.

In 2007, a $25-million downtown location of the Museum was opened, designed by architect Richard Gluckman of Gluckman Mayner Architects, New York. The expansion added 30,000 square feet (2,800 square metres) of space to the downtown site and increases its exhibition space from about 6,000 square feet (560 square metres) to 16,500 square feet (1,530 square metres). At the north end of the building is a three-story structure of corrugated steel and textured glass. It houses curatorial offices, art-handling and storage facilities, an art education classroom, a lecture hall that opens onto a terrace and a boardroom with a view of the harbor. The renovated baggage building is named for Irwin M. Jacobs, founder of the technology company Qualcomm, and his wife, Joan. The three-story Modernist structure bears the name of philanthropist and newspaper publisher David C. Copley.

In 2014, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego chose architect Annabelle Selldorf to head a $30 million expansion that is expected to triple the size of the museum's location in La Jolla. The project will create more gallery space to exhibit the museum's permanent collection, as well as additional space for education. The museum’s footprint will be expanded to include properties (now residential but owned by the museum) on both sides of the institution, and the space that now houses Sherwood Auditorium will be reconfigured as a gallery, with potential exhibit space of approximately 8,000 square feet.


The Museum of Contemporary Art has a nearly 5,000-object collection of post-World War II art that includes key pieces by color field painter Ellsworth Kelly, minimalist sculptor Donald Judd and renowned California installation artist Robert Irwin. In 2012, museum received 30 contemporary pieces from the 1950s to 1980s, with artworks from Piero Manzoni, Ad Dekkers, Christo, Jules Olitski and Franz Kline, as well as California artists Craig Kauffman and Ron Davis, from the collection of Vance E. Kondon and his wife Elisabeth Giesberger.

The Copley Building is outfitted with two specially commissioned permanent installations. Roman De Salvo made light fixtures of industrial materials for walls of the stairwell. Outside the building, Jenny Holzer created a parade of her trademark truisms to be spelled out vertically in light-emitting diodes. The words run through clear plastic tubes that she calls icicles.


MCASD has a permanent endowment fund of over $40 million, and an annual operating budget of approximately $6 million. Annual support comes from a balanced mix of individuals, corporations, foundations, government agencies, and interest earned from the endowment, the majority of which came from a transformational 1999 bequest from Rea and Jackie Axline of more than $30 million.

From 1983 to 2016, Hugh Davies steered the museum as director. From October 2016, Kathryn Kanjo will become the museum's director and CEO.


Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Wikipedia