Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

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1941

1941

The residence of Ellen Browning Scripps, designed by Irving J. Gill, is purchased by the Museum’s founding trustees for $10,000, paid to Scripps Memorial Hospital on July 26. Trustees obtain formal non-profit organization status as The Art Center in La Jolla. Freda L. Klapp is appointed the first Director.

1941 vintage article

1950

1950

Architects Robert Mosher and Roy Drew (Architects Mosher Drew, San Diego) modify the Ellen Browning Scripps home to include formal galleries.

Art Center

1955

1955

Patrick T. Malone appointed Director.

It is what is says.

1959

1959

Donald J. Brewer appointed Director.

It is what is says.

1960

1960

Sherwood Auditorium, designed by Architects Mosher Drew, opens.

Sherwood Hall in 1960

1964

1964

Museum changes name to La Jolla Museum of Art.

Article featuring La Jolla Museum of Art in 1964

1969

1969

Thomas S. Tibbs appointed Director; Board approves focus of Museum to be on ‘‘the art of today’’ with emphasis on work created since 1950.

Cars on street

1971

1971

Name changes to La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art.

La Jolla Museum of Art entrance in 1961

1973

1973

Sebastian ‘‘Lefty’’ Adler appointed Director.

Lefty Adler poses for camera in 1973

Source: San Diego Reader

1976

1976

A Night in Monte Carlo------the Museum’s inaugural annual gala------takes place.

A group of men converse in table, while others stand in line at buffet.

1980

1980

Moser and Drew renovation.

Front of MCASD La Jolla 1981, a couple of station wagons parked in front.

1983

1983

Hugh M. Davies appointed Director.

Hugh Davies portrait

1985

1985

Contemporary Collectors donor group established with mandate to use funds to expand the Museum’s collection and support programs.

An audience stands patiently in 1986

1986

1986

Museum establishes a presence in downtown San Diego with a series of storefront gallery spaces; is one of the first museums to provide exhibition materials in Spanish and English, from exhibition text to artworks’ wall labels.

picture might be from last year?

1987

1987

MCASD opens 911--A House Gone Wrong at the Museum’s downtown space, featuring works created by the Border Art Workshop/Taller de Arte Fronterizo, an artists’ collective in San Diego/Tijuana.

Mixed Media, experimental dining table.

1992

1992

Name changes to Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD).

Old Logo
1992

MCASD hosts the first U.S. solo museum exhibition of acclaimed sculptor Anish Kapoor.

Anish Kapor sculptures of blue orbs installed inside MCASD

Exhibition View of Anish Kapor

1993

1993

MCASD organizes La Frontera/The Border: Art About the Mexico/United States Border Experience

La Frontera
1993

MCASD Downtown opens at One America Plaza building, 1001 Kettner Blvd. Exterior designer: Helmut Jahn. Interiors designed by artists Robert Irwin and Richard Fleischner, and architect David Raphael Singer.

A trolly arrives, ready to load a crowd of transporters.

One America Plaza

1996

1996

La Jolla facility undergoes major expansion and renovation. Architects Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, Philadelphia, restore Scripps House facade, and expansion includes Axline Court, Edwards Sculpture Garden, and Museum Café

Inside the main entrance of abstract building MCASD La Jolla.

Axline Court

1999

1999

MCASD receives $30 million bequest from Jackie and Rea Axline and funds are directed to Museum’s endowment; their generosity is celebrated annually with the Axline Lecture.

Folks sitting in theatre, waiting for Axline Lecture to begin.

2001

2001

International Collectors support group founded by Irwin and Joan Jacobs.

A group of folks, dressed warm in front of Bilbao Museum in 1999

2006

2006

MCASD stages Strange New World: Art and Design from Tijuana across both its La Jolla and Downtown campuses, making it one of the most ambitious exhibitions of contemporary Tijuanense art to date and the largest exhibition in the museum's history, containing 150 works by forty-one artists, architects, designers, and filmmakers.

A collage reflecting our strange new world. Stuck in traffic again.

2007

2007

Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building and David C. Copley Building open on site of former ‘‘baggage building’’ of the Santa Fe Depot train station. The new facility expands the Museum’s downtown presence, and provides space for large-scale sculptural installations. Architect: Richard Gluckman, Gluckman Mayner Architects, New York.

Neon sign that reads Museum of Contemporary Art of San Diego. Downtown location.
2007

MCASD begins offering free admission to visitors age 25 and younger, courtesy of the Qualcomm Foundation.

Qualcomm Foundation
2007

Jenny Holzer installs For MCASD, which employs thousands of LEDs enclosed in clear plastic tubes. The vertical, red lights display phrases such as “Abuse of power comes as no surprise,” “An elite is inevitable,” “A little knowledge can go a long way” and “Eating too much is criminal.”

Jenny Holzer LED sign that reads Transcendence

Jenny Holzer, For MCASD 2007

2007

MCASD Downtown debuts Robert Irwin: Light & Space, a major site-specific commission by the renowned Light & Space artist developed during Irwin’s residency in MCASD’s Robert Caplan Artist-in-Residence Studio.

Irwin Light Space. Viewers stand in empty space, absorbing bright lights that beam off the wall.

Robert Irwin Light & Space 2007

2010

2010

MCASD debuts Here Not There: San Diego Art Now at their La Jolla flagship building, offering a stimulating and provocative view into the variety, strength, and vitality of work being produced by contemporary artists living in San Diego County.

Two morphed lawn chars oddly rest inside the museum of MCASD La Jolla.

2011

2011

Bequest of 40 artworks from Ruth and Murray Gribin. Artists represented in the collection include John Altoon, Robert Irwin, and Ed Ruscha.

Pink, Red, Purple, geometric forms, making color the subject this oil painting.

Karl Benjamin Untitled 2011

2011

Bequest of more than 30 works from the estate of Vance E. Kondon and Elisabeth Giesberger further strengthen the Museum’s Minimalist holding, including works by artists Piero Manzoni, Brice Marden, and Robert Ryman.

Dark shades of green seen on canvas.

Brice Marden. Green Study 1982

2011

MCASD debuts Phenonemal: California Light, Space, and Surface across both campuses.

Two viewers stand in empty space, mesmerized by an empty wall that is framed by light.

Doug Wheeler Phenomenal 2011

2013

2013

Bequest of David C. Copley’s collection of more than 40 works by world-renowned artist Christo.

Christo Package. Impossible to open.
2013

MCASD stages The Very Large Array: San Diego/Tijuana Artists in the MCA Collection.

Very Large Array or colorful artwork

2016

2016

MCASD celebrates its 75th anniversary and announces capital campaign to expand La Jolla facility. Annabelle Selldorf, Selldorf Architects, New York creates expansion design that will quadruple the gallery space from 10,000 to 40,000 square feet and nearly double the Museum’s square footage.

MCASD Rendering of building seen from above
2016

MCASD Downtown opens DeLIMITations: A Survey of the 1821 United States-Mexico Border.

DeLIMITations
2016

Kathryn Kanjo appointed as The David C. Copley Director and CEO.
[Photo: Stacy Keck]

Kathryn Kanjo portrait in front of white wall, and strong shadows.

Photo: Stacy Keck

2017

2017

MCASD’s La Jolla facility is closed for renovations. More than 2,500 works of art transported from the vaults and galleries in La Jolla to off-site storage. Staff offices temporarily move downtown. Pre-construction maintenance begins.

Construction Fence with images plastered for the public.

2018

2018

MCASD breaks all previous fundraising records at its successful 42nd annual gala, Monte Carlo: An Art Affair.

The Old Guard
2018

MCASD opens the regional exhibition Being Here with You/ Estando aquí contigo: 42 Artists From San Diego and Tijuana at its downtown location. Bringing together work by 42 artists and collectives living and working in the San Diego and Tijuana region, the exhibition highlights distinctive practices shaping conversations and communities in our binational region and beyond.


42 Artists from San Diego and Tijuana displayed at MCASD downtown.
October 18, 2018

MCASD breaks ground on its long planned for expansion project on October 18, 2018, the Museum’s 77th anniversary.

Professionals with shovels. Can you dig it?

2020

2020

MCASD: Digital launches to provide online access to exhibitions and virtual programming during Covid-19 pandemic featuring LATINX artists. Site featured complete digital exhibition of Experiments on Stone: Four Women Artists from the Tamarind Lithography Workshop.

Experiments on Stone graphic

2021

2021

Downtown location reopens with exhibition featuring Yolanda Lopez: Portrait of the Artist

A visitor stands alone enjoying the large scale works of Yolanda Lopez inside MCASD downtown.

Photo: Carlitos Galvan

2022

April 9, 2022

The La Jolla expansion project is complete and the building reopens to public on April 9. New galleries feature highlights from the permanent collection and Niki de Saint Phalle in the 60s, a collaboration with The Menil Collection, Houston.