The historic San Diego Museum of Art (619-232-7931) [sdmart.org] is the first, largest and most impressive art institution in the county. Its world renowned collections consist of 14,000 art pieces dating as far back as 1500 B.C. In addition, the museum has garnered international recognition for organizing and hosting major exhibitions featuring art from throughout the world. The museum is open Mon., Tues., Thurs. Fri. and Sat. 10 a.m.–5 p.m., Sun. noon–5 p.m. Closed Wed. Adults ($12), seniors and military with ID ($9), students ($8), children 7–17 ($4.50).
The Museum’s nationally renowned permanent collection includes Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings, and 19th- and 20th-century American paintings and sculptures.
In addition, the Museum regularly features major exhibitions from around the world, as well as an extensive year-round schedule of supporting cultural and educational programs for children and adults. Exhibition text is always in English and Spanish. The Museum’s research library offers access to an extensive collection of art history publications.
More than 75 full-time and part-time employees ensure the smooth operation of the Museum, guided by the leadership of a 37-member Board of Trustees.
The Museum is supported by its Board, Members, donors, foundations, corporations, support organizations, countless volunteers, and our visitors. Additional financial support is provided by the County of San Diego Community Enhancement Program and the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.
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Brief History of the San Diego Museum of Art
Architects William Templeton Johnson and Robert W. Snyder designed the museum in a plateresque style to harmonize with existing structures from the Panama–California Exposition of 1915. The dominant feature of the façade is a heavily ornamented door inspired by a doorway at the University of Salamanca. The Catedral de Valladolid was another inspiration for the museum’s exterior design, and the architects derived interior motifs from the Santa Cruz Hospital of Toledo, Spain. The original construction took two years. Sponsor Appleton S. Bridges donated the building to the City of San Diego upon its completion. In 1966 the museum added a west wing and a sculpture court which doubled its size, and an east wing in 1974 further increased its exhibition space.