San Diego Guide for Art Lovers

San Diego Guide for Art Lovers #travel #travelsandiego #sandiegoart #sandiego

San Diego is awesome if you love art, artists and artist communities. We complied a list of the best places to go if you want to experience all the art San Diego has to offer. Follow us for the latest on these cool places, get profiles on current exhibits and more.

Borrego Art Institute

If you’re a fan of cool art galleries, you’ll love the Borrego Art Institute. The space was designed and built in 1949 with multiple office tenants in Borrego Springs. Its new life started in 2011 with the intention of keeping to original designs. It does a great job incorporating its surroundings (the lovely Borrego Springs landscape) to create an interesting experience before you even walk in the doors. The rotating exhibitions incorporate many local and regional artists in a fresh setting and we love interacting with the staff and volunteers there! The gift shop includes many local artists and designers as well.

Address: 665 Palm Canyon Drive, Borrego Springs CA 92004
Learn more here.

Fallbrook Art Center

The Fallbrook Art Center not only holds seven to ten major exhibitions each year, but it also takes a big part in the community. Through different service organizations, school programs and more, the Fallbrook Art Center has programs showing art in public spaces (Fallbrook Art in Public Places), teaching art education classes in schools (Fallbrook School of the Arts) and allowing collaboration between artists and art programs (Fallbrook Arts Alliance). Going to the Center supports these causes! The Center always features many great local and regional artists.

Address: 103 South Main Street, Fallbrook CA 92028
Learn more here.

La Jolla Athenaeum 

The Athenaeum is one of only sixteen nonprofit membership libraries in the US. It’s one of only two west of the Mississippi! The Library specializes in music and art and has one of the best collections of artists’ books in Southern California. And yes, it’s open to the public. It holds great art exhibits featuring local art among other shows. It also has art classes, concerts, lectures, tours and more happenings throughout the year.

Its roots began in 1894 with a group of La Jollans who formed the La Jolla Reading Room. In 1899, it changed names and elected its first president, Ellen Browning Scripps (who’s one of San Diego’s prominent citizens of the past). In the 1920s, the Library outgrew its space and funded a new building designed by the famous architect William Templeton Johnson. Over the years, some expansion and renovations have been completed to bring the La Jolla Athenaeum to what it is today!

Address: 1008 Wall Street, La Jolla CA 92037
Learn more here.

Lux Art Institute

The Lux Art Institute is an interesting and exciting place. Started in 1998 with an initial aim to create more understanding of visual art, the Institute didn’t have a permanent structure until 2007. Its goal is to redefine the museum experience to make art more accessible and meaningful to the community. It does this through its Artist Residency program.

Instead of having static art shows and exhibits, the Institute has an artist start a residency for a period of a month where the artist creates art on site for the public to see, enjoy and engage the artist in conversation. The Institute also has some great programs for children and the community to better understand and connect with art.

The building is one of the few LEED-certified green buildings in San Diego County and the Institute even favors those who bicycle to its location: if a visitor rides a bike to Lux, they get in free!

Address: 1550 South Camino Real, Encinitas CA 92024
Learn more here.

Mingei International Museum

The Mingei Museum was started in 1978 by a professor of art at San Diego State University. The term mingei means ‘art of the people’ and the name for the museum came to be because of the founder’s involvement with the Mingei Association of Japan.The Museum’s very first exhibit featured dolls and toys from around the world.

The Museum’s focus is on the art of the people. The Museum preserves and exhibits pieces from around the world in the subjects of folk art, craft and design. Its collections include more than 26,000 pieces from 141 countries from around the world.  It wasn’t until 1996 that the Museum moved into its current location in the House of Charm in Balboa Park. We are sure glad it’s there!

Address: 1439 El Prado, San Diego CA 92101
Learn more here.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego: Downtown

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego: Downtown is a great stop for art.  The Museum’s collections include over 4,000 pieces of art from 1950 to present day from a wide assortment of artists.  The Downtown location is next to the Santa Fe Depot…in fact, the older of the two MCASD buildings used to be the baggage area for the train station (Santa Fe Depot).  This location usually hosts larger pieces and installations that involve videos, projections and lighting.

Address: 1100 and 1001 Kettner Boulevard, San Diego CA 92101
Learn more here.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego: La Jolla

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego: La Jolla is the larger space of the two MCASD locations.  It has great views of La Jolla’s coast and the ocean, and it holds the Museum’s Café and Store.  The Museum’s mission is to collect, preserve and educate the public on art and artists from 1950 to present day. The Museum has done this since it was started in 1941.  The permanent collection is located in the Sculpture Garden.  The easiest piece to see and enjoy within the sculpture garden is Borofsky’s Steel Man located to the right of the Museum’s entrance.

Address: 700 Prospect Street, La Jolla CA 92037
Learn more here.

Museum of Photographic Arts

The Museum of Photographic Arts (or MOPA) is the best place to go in San Diego if you like photography.  It has a collection of over 7,000 images and has artists such as Alfred Stieglitz, W. Eugene Smith, Ruth Bernhard and Margaret Bourke-White. It was started in 1974 and officially opened in 1983.

MOPA is one of very few museums dedicated to the collection and preservation of photography. Its library has one of the largest photography publication collections in the US, and its Balboa Park location makes it easy to get to.

Address: 1649 El Prado, San Diego CA 92101
Learn more here.

The New Children’s Museum

The New Children’s Museum is over 30 years old. It started in La Jolla in 1983 and relocated to a warehouse in 1983. In 2002, the Museum closed its doors to start building the new environmentally friendly space and took to the streets to bring art and activities to the area. The new space reopened in 2008 with a huge environmentally sustainable building and a passionate staff dedicated to help kids think creatively, critically and uniquely.  The Museum focuses on bringing original and tactile art for visitors; it wants everyone to leave with energy and a new way to see the world.

Address: 200 West Island Avenue, San Diego CA 92101
Learn more here.

Oceanside Museum of Art

Housed in the famous city hall building in Oceanside, the Oceanside Museum of Art’s structure is part of the attraction. It was designed by architect Irving Gill (the same man responsible for designing the Marston House in Balboa Park) and had been a great building to see before it became part of the Museum. The Museum began showing exhibits and incorporating public programs in 1995, but it wasn’t until 1997 when it opened its beautifully designed doors to the public.

The exhibits change about 15 times a year so there is always a wide selection of modern and contemporary art on display. The Museum focuses on regional, national and global artists from the 20th and 21st centuries.

Address: 704 Pier View Way, Oceanside CA 92054
Learn more here.

San Diego Airport Art

The San Diego International Airport is more than a travel necessity; it’s also a great stop for public art in San Diego. The Airport places great importance on making amazing customer experiences and part of this is to create a beautiful location for people traveling into and out of San Diego. The Airport believes it’s the first impression visitors get of our city and the last impression before they leave. Because of this, they want to weave art into the architecture and experience and do it in a way that gives homage to the San Diego culture and art scene.
Art is everywhere in the San Diego Airport. The Airport has permanent installations throughout the terminals both inside and out. It also has rotating exhibits involving organizations and artists around San Diego County. For example, when The New Children’s Museum had their TRASH exhibit, there was a temporary exhibit at the Airport as well.

The San Diego Airport also has a performing arts program called a breve. It includes planned concerts and dances. It also includes impromptu performances to surprise travelers and make the Airport more fun (and less stress!).

Address: 3225 N Harbor Drive, San Diego CA 92101
Learn more here.

San Diego Art Institute

Dedicated to local San Diego artists, the San Diego Art Institute (also known as the Museum of the Living Artist) is a small and intimate gallery. Located in Balboa Park, the Museum showcases around 30 shows a year with many of the exhibits being regional juried art. In addition to regional shows, its programs include outreach in the community, youth art shows and an annual international award exhibit.

Address: 1439 El Prado, San Diego CA 92101
Learn more here.

San Diego Central Library

The new San Diego Central Library took 3 years to build but it was worth it for this mecca of information and culture. It opened September 28, 2013 with nine stories, a charter school, cafe, store, public art and plenty of space for events.

The art collection is great and is just getting better with time. It has a permanent gallery space on its top level for rotating exhibits. It also has art throughout the building in the form of displays, sculptures, installations and paintings. We love the baseball memorabilia collection, which is the second largest in the US.

Address: 330 Park Blvd, San Diego CA 92101
Learn more here.

San Diego State University

San Diego State University’s School of Art, Design and Art History maintains two wonderful art galleries for students and the community. The first gallery started on campus (rightfully named the University Gallery) and has been going strong for 30 years. It offers students a chance to learn all the aspects of hosting exhibits and provides the student body and the public a wonderful free resource for art.

SDSU has a lot of fun and interesting art around campus. Visitors should roam around SDSU’s Main Library (Love Library) to see great student art and the amazing Science Fiction collection. The main floor displays a WPA mural created in 1936 by the artist Genevieve Burgeson Bredo; her NRA Packages mural was nicely restored in 2007.

The Library’s Science Fiction collection, Strange Data, Infinite Possibilities, is one of the best science fiction collections in the US. It was started in 1977 by an SDSU professor and has been added to over the years to have numbers in the 5,000s! See such things as a copy of Robert A. Heinlein speech at the 1941 Science Fiction Conference, a typewriter belonging to L. Ron Hubbard (the creator of Scientology as well as a distinguished writer), an original Ray Bradbury screenplay copy and first editions of many books including Jules Verne.

The Downtown Gallery provides a great atmosphere while being close to the city for visitors and locals to check out art related to the SDSU community.

Downtown Gallery: 725 W Broadway, San Diego CA 92101
University Gallery: School of Art, Design and Art History, SDSU’s Campus
SDSU Library: 5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego CA 92182
Learn more here.

Spanish Village Art Center

The Spanish Village Art Center in Balboa Park holds 37 different studios/galleries that host over 200 different artists. Built in 1935, the Village area was designed for the California Pacific International Exposition and made to look like a cute old village in Spain. Just as many places within Balboa Park were repurposed for World War II efforts, the Village was used as a temporary barracks for the US Army. In 1947, artists took over the area again and have stayed ever since. Find artists of all different medias including, pottery, oil, collage, jewelry, photography, watercolor and more. Many of San Diego’s artist guilds have studio space here, including the San Diego Potters’ Guild, the Art Glass Guild of San Diego and the Southwestern Artist Association. It’s Gallery 21 holds public art exhibitions and is a great place to check out within the Village.

Address: 1770 Village Place, San Diego CA 92101
Learn more here.

The San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) is a great museum if you’re an art lover. It was opened in 1926 as the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego. The building was built by top San Diego architect William Templeton Johnson, who designed it with Spanish Colonial-style and elements throughout the building. Most of the Museum’s old masters collection was donated by the Putnam sisters and has been around since the Museum’s early days. During World War II, the building was used by the US Navy as a hospital. The downstairs of the Museum holds the administration offices and during World War II, this was where the hospital’s mortuary was housed!

The Museum has a great collection of art from Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. Some of its more famous pieces in the permanent collection include Picasso, Monet, Dali, Zurbaran, Sorolla, El Greco, Cotan and Hurd.

Address: 1450 El Prado, San Diego CA 92101
Learn more here.

Timken Museum of Art

The Timken Museum is a great treasure of San Diego and one of the best small museums in the world. It was started in 1965 with the Putnam sisters donating a lot of the Museum’s pieces from their Putnam Foundation. The Museum’s building is considered one of the best examples of mid-century Southern California modernism and is a gem within Balboa Park.

The Museum’s permanent collection includes amazing European Old Master paintings, sculptures and tapestries. It also has great pieces of American paintings and Russian icons in its collection. It is the only museum in San Diego with a Rembrandt in its permanent collection.

Address: 1500 El Prado, San Diego CA 92101
Learn more here.

University of California: San Diego

Art around the UCSD may not always be apparent to bystanders. That’s because many of the 18 different artists of the Stuart Collection (UCSD’s collection) make it a point to weave elements of the environment around their installations. The Stuart Collection is one of the largest outdoor permanent art galleries in the US. It spans the entire La Jolla campus of UCSD and encompasses approximately 1200 acres. All of the art is commissioned on a site-specific basis and all the short and long term plans of the campus are taken into account, with some art even being integrated into the buildings.

Artists in the collection are among the most cutting edge and innovative in the art world today; several see the Stuart Collection as their first foray into public art or sculpture. Artists include Robert Irwin, William Wegman, Niki de Saint Phalle and many more with standout works including a perfectly constructed small home that hangs off the seventh story of a building at a precarious angle and a gigantic teddy bear built of several ton boulders. Now there’s even a free iPhone app built to explore all the art with maps and videos.

The University Art Gallery is a great gallery within the campus to see exhibitions with student art. It was started  in 1966 and continues to hold great exhibits for students and the public.

Address: UCSD’s Campus: 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla CA 92093
Learn more here.

University of San Diego

The University of San Diego has quite the art collection. If you love prints, this is one of the best spots around to visit.

The School maintains four art gallery spaces and hosts many different types of exhibitions within these spaces: Hoehn Family Galleries, Fine Art Galleries and the May Gallery.

Address: University of San Diego, Maher Hall 274, 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego CA 92110
Learn more here.

Visions Art Museum

Visions Art Museum was started and continued on over the years because of the passion of its founders and members. It was started in 1985 by a group of art quilters who showcased quilts around San Diego twice a year. In 2007, the organization raised enough money to create a permanent home to showcase amazing textile work. Located in Liberty Station, the Museum is a great place to explore for the amazing work of members and textile artists from around the world. Known for contemporary quilts and textiles, the Museum is a great place for anyone interested in textiles, crafts or art.

Address: 2825 Dewey Road Suite 100, San Diego CA 92106
Learn more here.

Women’s Museum of California

Located in Liberty Station in Point Loma, the Women’s Museum of California was started by one dedicated lady. Mary Mashcal collected as much as she could on women’s history for almost 15 years before opening her home to the public in 1995. In 1997, the Museum moved from Mary’s house to a dedicated space for the public museum. The Museum is now located in the great visitor area of Liberty Station.

The Museum hosts many different events, lectures, education programs and exhibits with the purpose of preserving women’s history and inspiring women for the future.

Address: 2730 Historic Decatur Road Suite 103, San Diego CA 92106
Learn more here.


3 comments on “San Diego Guide for Art Lovers”

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