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San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art is a tourist attraction center that has a wide collection of art, most especially Spanish art. It is situated in San Diego, California at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park.
It was first opened on February 28, 1926 and formerly named The Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego. The name was later changed to its current name, “San Diego Museum of Art” in 1978. It is called “the region’s oldest and largest art museum” in the official Balboa Park website and is also one of the most popularly visited landmarks in San Diego with almost half a million people visiting the museum every year. The Museum provides a cultural experience that is diverse and rich for every visitor. It is located in the heart of Balboa Park, and its most popular collection that is permanently displayed includes South Asian paintings, Italian and Spanish old masters, and 19th and 20th century American sculptures and paintings.

In addition to these art collections, major exhibitions from around the world are regularly featured by the museum at City of San Diego, California. An extensive schedule of supporting educational and cultural programs for adults and children is also offered year-round. Furthermore, the research library of the museum offers access to an extensive collection of art history publications. The text used for exhibitions is always in Spanish and English.

Museum Building Design

The architects responsible for designing the museum building are William Templeton Johnson and Robert W. Snyder and in order to harmonize with existing structures from the 1915 Panama–California Exposition, they designed the building in a plateresque style. A heavily ornamented door inspired by a doorway at the University of Salamanca is the most prominent feature of the building’s design. The exterior design of the museum was also influenced by the Cathedral of Valladolid and the interior motifs were derived from the Santa Cruz Hospital of Toledo in Spain by the architects. The original construction of the building took about two years and after the construction was completed, the building was donated to the San Diego County Seat by Sponsor Appleton S. Bridges. A sculpture court and a west wing was added to the museum in 1966 which doubled the size, and in 1974, an east wing was added which further increased the museum’s exhibition space.

The art pieces in the museum’s collections are dated far back to 5000 BC to 2012 AD and the strength of the collections is in Spanish works by Zurbarán, Ribera, Murillo, Cotán, and El Greco.


Art pieces donated by Sisters Anne, Amy, and Irene Putnam are also a huge part of the museum’s old masters collections. The museum also houses art works by Italian masters Veronese, Giorgione, Giotto, Giambattista Pittoni, Canaletto and Luini. There are also art works by Rubens, Hals and van Dyck which represent the Northern European School.

The Art Live Annual Fundraiser

The Museum has hosted a major fundraiser, “Art Alive” every year in April since 1981. Other events like “Culture and Cocktails” and “Art after Hours” are also hosted by the museum and these events encourage those attending to get a close view at the collection and participate in social events centered in the museum’s gallery. Touring exhibits are regularly hosted by the museum. A large collection of images, including portraits, Arnold Newman’s work, and Mexican landscapes from the early twentieth century complements the exhibition.