Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

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Letter to the Community: MCASD Downtown

By Kathryn Kanjo, The David C. Copley Director and CEO

Community update from the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Prompted by expanded capacity and enhanced opportunities at our flagship La Jolla location, we've made a strategic decision to discontinue satellite operations downtown.

As a valued part of the MCASD community, I wanted to update you on the current status of our downtown buildings.

Prompted by expanded capacity and enhanced opportunities at our flagship La Jolla location, we've made a strategic decision to discontinue satellite operations downtown. The following is an update on our plan and progress as we move forward to consolidate our efforts and resources where we can better showcase our historical collection and dynamic temporary exhibitions.

The nearby property at 1001 Kettner Blvd welcomed a new tenant, the Navy SEAL Museum, and they are expected to open later this year. We wish them well. This exchange related to One American Plaza was managed by the Irvine Company and we were able to smoothly coordinate a lease transfer.

The depot buildings on 1100 Kettner Blvd are currently listed for sale. Our agreement with the City clearly states that any new owner must use the space for cultural purposes and that the City must also agree on the new ownership transfer. We have taken a positive step toward that result and have entered into a non-binding Letter of Intent with the University of California San Diego to sell the property and the parties are in exclusive negotiations.

As caretakers of art, all artwork on the site will remain as part of MCASD’s collection, and the Museum will ensure that they will be preserved and maintained appropriately. Both parties prioritize making these important works of the Museum’s collection accessible as part of Downtown’s cultural offerings.

We have many great memories from nearly 20 years downtown and have left a lasting mark on San Diego’s art scene at the urban core. The Museum’s final special exhibition in its satellite downtown location closed to the public in October 2022. In 2023, MCASD and the La Jolla Playhouse jointly commissioned an immersive theatrical work by the San Diego-based Optika Moderna. This premiere run of “La Lucha” ran through June 2023. The space continues to be used for performing arts programs by local partners, Blindspot Collective and Disco Riot, until the sale is complete.

We remain committed to being an integral part of San Diego's cultural fabric. The Museum has proven its ability to meet organizations in their own sites, as well as virtually, without having to maintain multiple operations. From our long-standing school partnerships to more recent programs for older adults, MCASD will continue to partner with organizations across the region, off-site as well as in La Jolla.

We will also continue to honor our commitment to the binational region by showcasing its artists and acquiring its work. In the past year alone, MCASD has acquired 11 artworks by San Diego and Tijuana artists.

With a renewed focus on providing enriching art experiences at our coastal location in La Jolla, this shift allows us to better serve our community and fulfill our mission to invite all audiences to experience our world, our region, and ourselves through the prism of contemporary art.

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress. We appreciate your support and patience as we navigate this newest turning point in our long history of serving our community.