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“Don't Skip This One!”

Museum of Contemporary Art - Downtown
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Ranked #220 of 430 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
New York
Level Contributor
52 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 28 helpful votes
“Don't Skip This One!”
Reviewed May 4, 2014

They really do a great job of displaying some very interesting works of contemporary art you would not see anywhere else.

When I was there in 4/14, I was most impressed with how many sound sculptures they have which obviously makes for both an exciting visual and auditory experience. I'm not a fan of photography but of course pay homage to Cindy Sherman. Even the main painter they had on display is doing unique designs that are tributes to migrant farm workers. Make sure to listen to the video of her pleasantly describing her process.

A ticket here gets you admission also at their museum in La Jolla for one week. The pictures you see at the top of the page here are actually from that museum. Indeed, the boat sculpture is pretty amazing though I would say one of few interesting works here. Make a day of walking around the shops and eating in La Jolla, but don't make a trip up here solely to go to this part of their museum.

Thus far, I would not consider San Diego much of an art mecca, but this museum and the San Diego Art Institute in Balboa Park (where they display really terrific pieces of art by students) will keep those starved for some art here entertained.

Visited April 2014
1 Thank hgoblin
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
Reno, Nevada, United States
Level Contributor
78 reviews
51 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 25 helpful votes
“Converted Train Depot”
Reviewed April 12, 2014

The actual museum was closed due to renovation, but the sign directed us across the street to a converted portion of a train station for the temporary museum location. The entry fee was reasonable-$10 or $5 for seniors.
The exhibits were very interesting and thought provoking revolving around themes of migrant labor, California agriculture and the seedier side of California life. The staff was very friendly.
Afterwards we explored the working train depot next door. It felt like I had stepped back into time, but it was great to see people using public transportation!

Visited April 2014
Thank Helen T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
104 reviews
57 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
“the work is good, the space is too small”
Reviewed December 5, 2013

this gallery will never be cutting edge until it expands. The exhibition space was good, but far too small to make it a repeat visit. There is a sister gallery in La Jolla, but that doesn't really make up for it.

Visited July 2013
Thank psychicliv
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Apple Valley, California
Level Contributor
26 reviews
6 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 14 helpful votes
“Making the best of the space”
Reviewed January 23, 2013

The main part of the museum is located in what may have been an old freight station, since it is located next to the old Santa Fe railroad station. They utilize the high walls to display a great deal of art, going from just above the floor to the ceiling. They have wall maps to help to locate the work's title and the name of the artist. There are to additional rooms that house work in a more traditional manner. They also have a more modern structure across the street for additional display space. The SDMOCA has another space further away in La Jolla, that you can view with your paid admission to the downtown sites. The way the art is displayed is a little quirky, but that adds to the charm of the museum.

Visited January 2013
Thank SteveT73
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Berkeley, California
Level Contributor
132 reviews
38 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 40 helpful votes
“Underappreciated Gem”
Reviewed January 13, 2013

This is the second time we visited the museum. We saw the exhibit on Border Art, and another exhibit of a contemporary artist who did an installation based on growing up in a San Diego neighborhood. The main show was displayed "Salon Style" which was interesting in showing interaction between the art works, but it made it difficult to pay attention to some works that might be worthy of more time. On the other hand, it was great to see all this contemporary work, and how artists influenced each other across the border. The exhibit by Margaret Noble 44th and Landis which included a soundscape was more successful. My suggestion would be that this museum is for people who like "contemporary" work, that is art that has been made in the last 30 years through the present; not people who are looking for a "modern" art museum which seems to be defined as art from the late 1800s through the 1970s or 80s.

Visited January 2013
Thank WanderersWife
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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