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Museum of Contemporary Art - Downtown
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Ranked #219 of 434 things to do in San Diego
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Owner description: With two locations, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is the region's foremost forum devoted to the exploration and presentation of the art of our time, presenting works across all media created since 1950. MCASD provides an unprecedented variety of exhibition spaces and experiences for the community, showcasing a dynamic schedule of exhibitions and public programs. At MCASD in Downtown, experience contemporary art in a historic setting - the Jacobs Building, formerly the Santa Fe Depot baggage building - and view site-specific installations by artists Jenny Holzer and Richard Serra. Located in the heart of San Diego, MCASD Downtown offers the perfect urban wedding setting for the modern couple. Choose from uniquely crafted spaces featuring new media art and design in either our Jacobs Building or adjacent Copley Building. From large social gatherings surrounded by exquisite architecture in our Figi Family Concourse & Farrell Gallery to upscale cocktail and dinner parties on our Woods Family Terrace overlooking San Diego, our Downtown location is the ideal venue for any occasion. History Established in 1941. Founded in 1941, MCASD has evolved into an organization of international renown. The Museum serves the region as a vital cultural and civic asset, with contemporary art and living artists at its core. In 1993, following a series of gallery locations in downtown San Diego, MCASD opened a permanent location in America Plaza at 1001 Kettner Boulevard. In a building by architect Helmut Jahn, the Museum's interiors were designed by the artists-architect team of Robert Irwin, Richard Fleischner, and David Raphael Singer. In January 2007, MCASD expanded the downtown location with the opening of two Richard Gluckman-designed buildings across the street from the 1001 Kettner location, and major commissioned site-specific works by Jenny Holzer and Richard Serra. The Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building (formerly the Santa Fe Depot baggage building built in 1915) features light-filled galleries and large spaces suitable for the presentation of large-scale installations and site-specific works.
Useful Information: Wheelchair access
Los Angeles, California
Level Contributor
50 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
Reviewed April 22, 2012

It was my second visit to the museum, and I was just as disappointed as the first time. World cities like Tokyo, Seoul, Paris, London etc has modern art museums that are vibrant, exciting and show real talent. But also smaller cities like San Jose and Dallas has amazing modern art museums. I can only believe the museums' leadership is incompetent and/or gullible. A loss for San Diego.

Visited April 2012
1 Thank psjofors
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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26 reviews from our community

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English first
North Carolina
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Don't waste your time ...”
Reviewed February 28, 2012

Where's the beef? Small, overpriced, and lacking substance ... a real disappointment. Ask to see a catalogue of the exhibition before you pay! This review is for downtown. ... I did not go to La Jolla ...

2 Thank re_pete_5
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
233 reviews
89 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 221 helpful votes
“Wonderful little contemp. art museum!”
Reviewed December 17, 2011

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (downtown) is a fairly small museum, but a great museum! It sits in two buildings across the street from each other. The temporary exhibit (Phenomenal: California, Light, Space, Surface) has a wonderful piece by Doug Wheeler called “DW 68 VEN MCASD11” - it's positively enthralling. The museum describes the piece as “a total surround of disembodied luminescence,” but I found the experience to be a bit like lying on the bottom of a swimming pool and staring up at the light at the surface. While the La Jolla location of the MCASD is better known, this downtown location is not to be missed!

More on our time in San Diego:

Visited October 2011
Thank JATB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
158 reviews
82 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 104 helpful votes
“Small museum but worth the visit”
Reviewed August 13, 2010

The museum isn't all that big (even between the two buildings) and isn't overwhelming the way some large museums are; it is worth a visit. The urban art exhibit that is currently there is nice, accessible, and interesting. The admission ticket also includes the La Jolla branch, which is also worth a visit. I liked the downtown SD branch better personally but both are good.

Thank chatterbox-2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Collegeville, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
50 reviews
8 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 120 helpful votes
“thought it was overpriced..”
Reviewed March 26, 2007

Stopped in here while walking around San Diego downtown. The price is $10 and covers this place and La Jolla (which I did not go to) within 7 days. If you are just going to this location, $10 is too expensive for the little bit of art they have here. I think I might have been spoiled by seeing Tate Modern in London the previous year (which I think was free). The stuff they had here was mildly interesting but otherwise wasn't worth $10. I was done in 20 minutes and I wasn't sure if I had seen everything cause there wasn't that much to see.. But I realized I had and left kind of disappointed.

3 Thank nbell8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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