For nearly eight decades, the San Diego Museum of Art has honored the intentions of its original founders by not only developing a world renowned collection, but by fostering an environment where both the local and international community could enjoy and learn about art in an elegant and inspirational setting.
The Museum was established in 1922 when local business and civic leader, Appleton S. Bridges (1849-1929), agreed to fund the construction of a permanent structure to house a municipal art collection. The Fine Arts Society subsequently formed in 1925 from the merger of the San Diego Art Guild and the Friends of Art to operate the new museum.
Bridges hired one of San Diego's leading architects at the time, William Templeton Johnson (1877-1950), to design and construct the new art gallery. The Spanish Colonial-style architecture from the 1915 exposition in Balboa Park suggested the style for Johnson's design. Johnson and his associate Robert W. Snyder (1874-1955), however, went one step further and looked directly to sixteenth-century Spanish Renaissance models in the plateresque style for their inspiration.
For the building's exterior, they borrowed motifs from the Cathedral of Valladolid and the fa?ade of the University of Salamanca, while for the interior, they adapted features of the Hospital de Santa Cruz in Toledo.
Architectural sculptor Chris Mueller, who had supervised the architectural details of the 1915 exposition buildings, enhanced the fa?ade with the addition of sculptural elements including life-sized sculptures of Spanish old master painters Velazquez, Murillo, and Zurbar?n as well as heraldic devices and the coats-of-arms of Spain, the United States, California, and San Diego. A seashell, the fa?ade's central motif is also used as the Museum's logo.
Additional Balboa Park Attractions
San Diego's Balboa Park features over 85 performing arts and international culture organizations, 15 museums, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, artistically maintained gardens, hiking and biking trails, recreational facilities, a golf course and several restaurants. You can visit the San Diego Museum of Art and 12 other museums and attractions in Balboa Park with the Passport to Balboa Park. Passports cost $35 for adults and $19 for children (ages 3 ? 12).
San Diego Museum of Art
1450 El Prado
San Diego, California
From the North
Take Interstate 5 South. Exit on Sassafras Street (Airport exit). Continue to Laurel Street (stoplight). Turn left and follow Laurel Street over the bridge into Balboa Park. The Museum is on the left-hand side (North end) of the plaza where the road dead-ends.
From the South
Take Interstate 5 North. Exit on Sixth Avenue. Turn right onto Sixth Avenue and continue to Laurel Street (stoplight). Turn right and follow Laurel Street over the bridge into Balboa Park. The Museum is on the left-hand side (North end) of the plaza where the road dead-ends.
From the East
Interstate 8 West to State Highway 163 South. Take the University Avenue exit and, making no turns, you will be on Sixth Avenue. Continue to Laurel Street (stoplight). Turn left and follow Laurel Street over the bridge into Balboa Park. The Museum is on the left-hand side (North end) of the plaza where the road dead-ends.
From the West
Harbor Drive to Laurel Street (Laurel Street begins at Harbor Drive). Continue on Laurel Street over the bridge into Balboa Park. The Museum is on the left-hand side (North end) of the plaza where the road dead-ends.
The Copley Auditorium is attached to the San Diego Museum of Art. It is next to the Sculpture Court.
Tips & Suggestions
The Balboa Park Visitors Center, located in the National Historic Landmark House of Hospitality building, is your primary resource for information about the Park. To help Balboa Park guests decide how to spend their time in the Park, Visitors Center volunteers offer brochures, maps, audio tours and information about museum exhibits, special events, Park recreational activities, free Park guided tours, the gardens, transportation, dining options and more.
Tuesday through Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Thursdays 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Closed Mondays and on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day
PHONE (619) 232-7931