San Diego arts and museums
The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Photo credit: Screen shot, mcasd.org

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego plans to develop a multi-disciplinary arts hub at its downtown campus to nurture the visual and performing arts of the region, officials said.

The decision follows the 2022 expansion that quadrupled gallery space in the museum’s La Jolla location.

The aim for what’s being called MCASD Downtown is to create collaborations, engage new audiences and call attention to new voices, officials said.

“The strategic shift will leverage creative partnerships from across the region to further enhance downtown San Diego as an arts destination for the region,” said Kathryn Kanjo, the museum’s director and CEO.

MCASD Downtown will be open to artistic performances, exhibitions and events on what the museum described as “a flexible schedule.” The museum website notes that “our downtown location is temporarily closed.”

The campus also will continue supporting MCASD’s education initiatives, such as Extended School Partnerships and the Teen Arts Collective, to connect students with contemporary art.

“This is a dynamic period for San Diego’s arts and culture community, especially for the neighborhoods surrounding downtown San Diego,” Kanjo said. “With this shift toward community-based partnerships, we hope to more fully engage audiences through an extensive range of artistic content and media. Contemporary art looks forward and this initiative aligns directly with our forward-thinking mission.”

Beginning this year, MCASD will partner with local leaders in art, design and performing arts, including the La Jolla Playhouse’s Without Walls (WOW) Festival, World Design Capital San Diego Tijuana 2024 and the Blindspot Collective.

MCASD will be part of the World Design Capital event, a year-long slate of programming and events, with its downtown exhibit space set to be a venue to spotlight regional design.

MCASD Downtown will be one campus with two addresses:

  • MCASD Downtown, 1100 Kettner Blvd. – envisioned as a flexible exhibition and/or performance space. The Jacobs Building, with vast gallery spaces, will continue to host education activities and art installations, alongside new programming.
  • 1001 Kettner Blvd. – The aim is for it to operate as what’s described as an “arts incubator.”

One of the partners, Christopher Ashley, artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse, called MCASD Downtown “a unique opportunity to combine immersive theatre with an intricate production design.”

“We are delighted to be partnering with Kathryn Kanjo and the entire team at MCASD to launch one of the most ambitious Without Walls projects in the program’s history,” Ashley said. “As we grow the WOW series, we are excited to develop new partnerships that can help activate spaces in new ways.”


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Ellen Bullock