Contemporary art museum cuts ribbon on ‘magnificent’ expansion

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Booming Gallery
A thriving gallery in the expanded museum. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Civic and political leaders in San Diego cut a ribbon Tuesday to open a “magnificent and massive” expansion of the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art.

With gallery space tripling to 105,000 square feet – on par with the new Whitney Museum in New York – the four-year project created new galleries with spectacular ocean views to showcase a collection of 5,600 works by 1950 to the present day.

The museum will open to the public on Saturday, with free admission so San Diegan residents can experience what Mayor Todd Gloria called “a work of art unto itself.”

Gloria said the expanded MCASD, along with the new Rady Shell on the Bay and the renovated Mingei Museum in Balboa Park, are signs of “new hope” in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The arts help us out of this dark time,” Gloria said. “We want to make sure art is an integral part of what we do in this city.”

Museum director and CEO Kathryn Kanjo, architect Annabelle Selldorf, museum board chairman Paul Jacobs and her parents, philanthropists Joan and Irwin Jacobs, gathered outside the museum on Prospect Street to the inauguration.

Mayor Todd Gloria (left), museum director Kathryn Kanjo, Joan and Irwin Jacobs, architect Annabelle Selldorf and Paul Jacobs and his family. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Young Jacobs noted that his parents had been instrumental in supporting the museum for decades, and he recalled a fundraising art auction held at his childhood home.

He thanked his parents and the community for raising the $105 million needed to transform the museum and noted that 15 donations exceeded $1 million.

“I look forward to us as a community enjoying this museum for many decades to come,” he said.

The museum will inaugurate its new 6,800 square foot special exhibition galleries with “Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s”, the first exhibition to focus on the experimental and prolific work of revolutionary French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle, who lived in San Diego at the end of his career. The dramatic 20 foot ceilings will provide a unique showcase for the greatest works of this beloved artist.

The museum will be open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

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