Check-In San Diego

A lifestyle guide by the Sofia Hotel

Masterworks of Balboa Park: Take in the San Diego Museum of Art This Fall

Sculpture garden at San Diego Museum of Art (Photo: Rob Malouf/Flickr)

A center of San Diego arts and culture, big, beautiful, and be-gardened Balboa Park includes some of the city’s best-known tourist attractions. Among them is the wonderful San Diego Museum of Art, better than 90 years old and going strong. As a guest here at the Sofia Hotel in Downtown San Diego, you’re nice and close to this precious institution: one of the finest art museums on the West Coast, host to multimedia masterpieces that engage, inspire, and provoke.

Introducing the San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art’s collections comprise 20,000-plus pieces and objects representing thousands of years of human creativity and expression. Foremost among them are precious works of the Spanish old masters, including Goya, Zurbarán, and El Greco. But there’s so much else to explore here: from African basketry and pottery to East Asian landscape scrolls, from Renaissance paintings to modern photography.

Like more than a few of San Diego’s institutions, the Museum of Art’s roots go back to the Panama-California International Exposition of 1915 and 1916, held in Balboa Park and featuring a Fine Arts Building. In 1922, the businessman Appleton S. bridges pledged to fund a permanent city art museum, with William Templeton Johnson selected as architect; his design was inspired both by the Spanish Colonial style that informed many of the Panama-California International Exposition buildings as well as Spanish Renaissance architecture.

The museum opened in 1925 as the Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego, assuming its current name in 1978.

Current Exhibitions

The San Diego Museum of Art’s current exhibitions cover some fabulously diverse territory: nicely reflected the scope and breadth of the permanent collection.

Among the highlights are José-María Cano: Apostolate (through November 11th), which presents some of the contemporary Spanish painter and musician José-María Cano’s depictions of apostles; Black Life: Images of Resistance & Resilience in Southern California, displaying striking portraits of African-American community and politics in Southern California by the photographers Harry Adams, Charles Williams, and Guy Crowder; and American Still Life Moderns (through February 16th of next year), which showcases three decades of modern American takes on the venerable tradition of still life;

Films at the San Diego Museum of Art

A couple of upcoming films being screened in the museum’s James S. Copley Auditorium add insight to some of the current exhibitions on display. On Friday, September 13th, you can see Agents of Change, a 2016 documentary chronicling some of the leaders of the civil-rights and black-power movements and, in the museum’s words, “draw[ing] compelling links between the high-profile protests across university campuses of the 1060s and the battles for educational equality still ongoing today.”

The film’s being presented in collaboration with the San Diego African American Fine Arts Museum—also very much worth your time—and complements the aforementioned Black Life exhibition.

Then, on Friday, October 4th, the San Diego Museum of Art will screen Hockney, a 2014 film chronicling the life and work of David Hockney, whose The Valley (Mountains in Var, near La Garde Freinet) is on display through October 28th.

Visit the San Diego Museum of Art During Your Sofia Hotel Stay

Balboa Park is always a great idea for a day’s outing when you’re staying with us here in Downtown San Diego at the Sofia Hotel, and art lovers of both the casual and the obsessive variety will most certainly want to put its long-standing art museum on their itinerary!