Museum: A building in which objects of historical, scientific, artistic or cultural interest are stored and exhibited, as “the Museum of Modern Art.” —oxforddictionaries.com
These days, it’s not enough for a museum to be a storage house and art showroom. To assure its continued existence, it needs to attract new, younger-than-autumnal members, to shed its dull definition and shimmy into a shinier role as a happening place.
So, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s downtown location — the museum’s only active site since the La Jolla branch on Prospect Street closed a few months ago for a major renovation and expansion — is offering a series of Thursday-night art parties to lure in millennials from all over the county. Titled “eXit pARTies,” these immersive events are meant to give people who may not be in the habit of museum-hopping a chance to see what they’ve been missing. Alongside current exhibitions, they’re presented with a mix of live music, hands-on art activities, performances and creative cocktails, which will, hopefully, encourage them to keep coming back for more.
On the next-to-last evening in June, MCASD’s second exit party (aka “Changing Tides”) gave about 200 attendees good reasons to come in and be part of the scene. To begin, they could admire Jennifer Steinkamp’s flowery tribute to Nobel scientist Marie Curie (a room-size, seven-channel video installation originally commissioned and shown by the museum in 2011, then subject of this year’s first eXit pARTy in March and on view through August). Also on view is Andrea Chung’s “You Broke the Ocean in Half to Be Here,” a new exhibit featuring large-scale, sea-blue cyanotypes of lionfish (the deadly Indo-Pacific creatures that have invaded Caribbean waters), and small but mighty photo cutouts focused on the invisible workers behind Jamaica’s tourist economy.
Outside the galleries, two upbeat female DJs and a mellower “Island Boy” provided a soundtrack for the evening, while dozens of potential artists created their own collages, sipped inventive Snake Oil cocktails, and chatted with an Andy Warhol-lookalike promoting the museum’s Pop Factory gala July 29. The performances by Angela Jennings, UCSD alum and working artist, were not my favorite part of the evening, but they seemed to hold audiences’ interest.
Every eXit pARTy is guaranteed to be different, La Jollans are especially welcome, and you don’t have to be a millennial to have a good time. (God knows I’m not, and I did.) The next event, “Tropicalia,” is Oct. 26. See you there?
IF YOU GO: Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, 1100 Kettner Blvd., downtown San Diego. (858) 454-3541. mcasd.org