Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

The Museum of Contemporary Art in downtown La Jolla is a small but interesting art gallery. You can recognize the museum by its white facade with large supporting pillars. The front is graced by three captivating pieces:

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

  • one of Three Cairns: a limestone beehive like structure by Andy Goldsworthy.
  • Process Art (Dead Men Don't Make Sculpture): by Nathan Maby is a parody on The Thinker.
  • Hammering Man: is a larger-than-life, 216 inch, moving installation of a man with a hammer.

The Inside

The interior of this art museum is immaculately clean: white walls and clean straight lines. This neutral, if not barren landscape allows the artwork to dominate. There are 6 or 7 moderate-sized rooms (galleries) which feature various modes of contemporary art. The far west gallery has a large window that overlook the Pacific Ocean - very stunning.

The Museum of Contemporary Art contains photographs, paintings, sculptures, media arts, and kinetic art. Most displays are part of the museum's permanent collection (the entire collection has over 4000 pieces). The artwork is rotated every few months. On occasion temporary, traveling-exhibits are featured.

Many of the exhibits are suitable for all family members, but some exhibits are not suitable for young children. These include graphic images of human bodies or implied violence. Some pieces are thought-provoking and may impact in a non-positive way. The kinetic sculptures (artwork that moves) is noteworthy as are some of the video art.

Unfortunately, artwork inside the museum are not to be photographed. Though, there are many photographs in their web site. Free public tours available on Thursdays 6 pm, and Saturday & Sunday at 2 pm. As well, you can access an audio tour via cell phone (858-384-3321) or your MP3 player (download from

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

The Outside

The Museum of Contemporary art has an outdoor garden. This is a small but pleasant walk way speckled with choice art-pieces. Of particular interest is "Pleasure Point" by Nancy Rubins. This shipwreck of an installation is on the roof of the building and it looks like a pile of rowboats, canoes, jet skis, and surfboards piled one on top of another. You can see it as you drive along Coast Blvd.

What Else?

The Museum Store is a gift shop stocked with toys, books, jewelry, T-shirts, hats, and home decor.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

The Museum Cafe is an associated eatery with indoor and outdoor seating. It serves up egg & bacon breakfasts; and soup, salad, & sandwiches lunches. Breakfast is served from 9 am to 3 pm on Saturday & Sundays only. Lunch is served from 11 am to 3 pm, daily. Prices are a little high (this is La Jolla): expect to pay $10 to $13 for each breakfast or lunch plate.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


The Museum of Contemporary Art is relatively small but contains a thought-provoking collection of artwork. The outside Garden Gallery is a pleasant walkway and the adjacent Pacific Ocean is refreshing backdrop to the gallery. The museum gift shop, the Museum Cafe, and the trendiness of downtown La Jolla makes this place a great day trip. Expect to spend about an hour in the Art Museum. Shown: Big Ganesh by Niki de Saint Phalle.

The Museum of Contemporary Art has two locations.

This review is based on the La Jolla branch. Shown: Crossroads by Marcos Ramirez ERRE

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


MCASD - La Jolla
700 Prospect Street
La Jolla, CA

Hours of Operation:

11 am to 5 pm everyday
11 am to 7 pm Thurs
closed Wednesdays

MCASD Downtown
1100 & 1001 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92101

11 am to 5 pm everyday
11 am to 7 pm Thurs
closed Tuesdays


$10 for general admission
$5 for seniors, military and students
free for those 25 and under
free for MCASD members (Membership is $75 and up)
free on Thursdays from 5 pm to 7 pm