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‘A museum of our time’: Museum of Contemporary Art celebrates ‘masterful transformation’ in La Jolla

Mayor Todd Gloria, Jonathon Glus, Kathryn Kanjo, Annabelle Selldorf and the Jacobs family
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria, Jonathon Glus, Kathryn Kanjo, Irwin Jacobs, Annabelle Selldorf, Paul and Genevieve Jacobs (back row, from left) join Joan Jacobs and Annabelle and Alyssia Jacobs after cutting the ribbon for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s renovated La Jolla location April 5.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

“This is a beautiful sight,” Kathryn Kanjo told a crowd of about 110 people outside the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its flagship La Jolla location April 5.

Kanjo, the David C. Copley director and chief executive of MCASD, has overseen a four-year, multimillion-dollar renovation of the museum at 700 Prospect St. that doubled its square footage and gave its existing spaces a complete overhaul.

MCASD Chief Executive Kathryn Kanjo calls the La Jolla redesign “a massive and masterful transformation.”
Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego Chief Executive Kathryn Kanjo calls the La Jolla redesign “a massive and masterful transformation.”
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The museum will officially reopen to the public with another ribbon cutting at 9:45 a.m. Saturday, April 9, followed by a day of free admission including the galleries, an architectural tour, guided art-making activities and live music. Visit mcasd.org/reopening to reserve complimentary tickets.

Kanjo said the redesign was “a massive and masterful transformation,” adding 28,000 square feet of gallery and special exhibition space and bringing the total size of the museum to 105,000 square feet.

The design also incorporates new public spaces, including the outdoor Art Park, seaside terraces and walkways.

San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, Mayor Todd Gloria, Kathryn Kanjo and Joan and Irwin Jacobs
San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, Mayor Todd Gloria, Kathryn Kanjo and Joan and Irwin Jacobs attend the MCASD ribbon cutting April 5.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

The main building is named the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building in honor of the longtime supporters and La Jollans whose $20 million provided the foundation for the museum’s extensive fundraising efforts.

The renovation reorients the museum’s front entrance onto Prospect Street with a new entry pavilion that “corresponds with the town and the neighboring [Irving] Gill buildings,” lead architect Annabelle Selldorf said.

Additionally, the locally owned Urban Kitchen Group has been contracted to oversee a new restaurant named The Kitchen @ MCASD, which will open in early summer.

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria proclaimed April 5 to be The Museum of Contemporary Art Day in San Diego.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria proclaimed April 5 to be The Museum of Contemporary Art Day in San Diego. The museum “is among San Diego’s most prominent cultural assets,” he said.

He also noted the importance of MCASD’s reopening as the city embarks on its “first-ever cultural planning process that we’re calling ‘The Creative City,’” which aims to weave arts and culture investments into other city initiatives such as infrastructure and climate plans.

MCASD is “a museum of our time,” said Jonathon Glus, executive director of the city Commission for Arts and Culture. “This is how we experience the lives we have shared together.”

One of the exhibits featured during the MCASD reopening is "Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s."
One of the exhibits during the MCASD reopening is “Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s,” focusing on the work of French American artist de Saint Phalle, who spent her last years in La Jolla and died in 2002.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Glus said the renovation of the museum’s flagship in La Jolla centers it among local cultural institutions such as the La Jolla Historical Society a few doors down, the Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, the Murals of La Jolla and La Jolla Playhouse.

MCASD board President Paul Jacobs said the museum’s expansion will enable visitors to view “the huge and wonderful collection of art that we have. … It’s an amazing transformation.”

MCASD also will host “Prebys Play Day” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday, April 10, featuring hands-on art activities and games, along with tours. The free event will repeat the second Sunday of each month. To learn more, visit mcasd.org/events/prebys-play-day-april-2022.

MCASD’s regular hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays. Admission is $25 for adults ($20 for San Diego County and Tijuana residents), $15 for students and senior citizens, and free for members and children younger than 17. More discounts are available. ◆