Add a sleek, modern art institution to the very long list of amazing attractions in La Jolla. After a $105 million renovation (and a closure lasting almost five years), the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) has finally reopened in La Jolla to much fanfare. Now, visitors from near and far can enjoy top-notch exhibitions in a one-of-a-kind space, which more than quadrupled during the recent renovation under the design and direction of Annabelle Selldorf of Selldorf Architects.
With a location smack dab in the middle of La Jolla on Prospect Ave, just a stone’s throw from the downtown district and the beachfront, this institution is easy to add to your La Jolla bucket list. Here’s the lowdown on MCASD La Jolla, a true gem among San Diego art museums.
MCASD La Jolla was founded in 1941 as The Art Center in La Jolla in a space completed by Irving Gill. This oceanfront dwelling served as the last home of Ellen Browning Scripps, a local journalist and philanthropist. The building underwent several renovations throughout the years, including as recently as 1996. Still, the museum’s ever-expanding collection necessitated a further expansion, and in 2014, Selldorf Architects was brought on to do the job. Goals with the renovation included providing a new entrance on Prospect Ace, creating a new art park, and incorporating natural light and the museum’s oceanfront setting.
With 40,000 square feet of gallery space, MCASD La Jolla is one San Diego museum you can easily spend hours in. Step into the open, transparent lobby space, then work your way through exhibition halls with high ceilings. Some spaces make use of La Jolla’s incredible coastal setting, allowing ocean blues to provide a colorful contrast against stark white walls. When you’re done inside, head outdoors to the two-level terrace overlooking the Pacific Ocean.
Pop art from the ‘60s and ‘70s dominate at this San Diego art museum, along with Latin American art, conceptual art, and creations by artists from throughout California and the San Diego/Tijuana region. In fact, some of the artwork on display has been commissioned specifically for MCASD exhibitions. You’ll find thought-provoking pieces in the permanent collection, as well as in the special exhibits. Past artists featured have included Niki de Saint Phalle, Alice Aycock, Richard Fleischner, Mary Miss, and George Trakas, among many others.
Featuring a collection of books, jewelry, knick-knacks, and home goods, MCASD’s shop is housed in an attractive, sunlit space. Browse quality goods and find the perfect gift or keepsake. The shop is open Thursday through Tuesday from 10 am to 4 pm (on the third Thursday of the month, the shop stays open until 8 pm) and closed on Wednesday.
Admission is $25 for adults, $20 for San Diego/Tijuana residents and $15 for students and seniors. People under 17 and military members are free, as are MCASD members. On the third Thursday of the month, admission is free for everyone.
Where to Stay
Cormorant Boutique Hotel is the perfect place to stay close to MCASD. It’s just an eight-minute walk from the hotel to the museum. Enjoy modern digs with stylish design and décor, plus superb amenities such as on-site Prospect Market and Birdseye, our rooftop bar and restaurant.