Thursday, Oct 18, 2018 - 11:30 am

San Diego—The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) broke ground on its long planned for expansion project this morning at a special ceremony led by MCASD’s David C. Copley Director and CEO Kathryn Kanjo, Board President Dr. Paul E. Jacobs, and Founding Principal of Selldorf Architects, Annabelle Selldorf. Congressman Scott Peters, San Diego City Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry, Assemblyman Todd Gloria, and Supervisor Ron Roberts were all in attendance to celebrate another milestone in this important civic project.

“Two years ago, on the occasion of our 75th anniversary, the Museum announced a transformative vision for the future: a campaign that would dramatically grow the campus and increase its operational endowment,” said Kanjo. “With the acquisition of additional property, invested stakeholders, and the endorsement of the city of La Jolla and San Diego, the Museum is poised to nearly double its size and quadruple current gallery space.”

The Museum has raised just over $80M towards the $95M Capital Campaign goal for the renovation of its flagship La Jolla facility. This impressive total represents gifts from close to 70 individuals. Lead gifts include $10M from Matt and Iris Strauss, and a generous gift from Joan and Irwin Jacobs, whom the campus will be named after.

Many of the Museum’s dedicated collectors have promised gifts of art to MCASD, whether piece by piece, or a collection in its entirety. Promised gifts include major works by significant artists such as Francis Bacon, Helen Frankenthaler, Morris Louis, Joan Mitchell, Barnett Newman, and Andy Warhol.

“Culture is part of every great city, and when MCASD reopens, it will be a cultural beacon for the city of La Jolla, the San Diego region, and far beyond,” said Board President Paul Jacobs. “This project is privately funded, but its end result will benefit the public tremendously, and that’s especially gratifying to everyone who supports this project.”

Since its founding in 1941 as The Art Center in La Jolla, MCASD has evolved into a leading visual arts organization of national and international renown. With artworks dating from 1950, the permanent collection includes more than 4,700 objects in all media. International in character, the holdings boast strengths in abstraction and minimalism, California art since 1960, Latin American art, and installation art.

As the collection has grown, the building has remained constrained, with inadequate galleries to display its holdings. Prudent real estate acquisitions and strong donor engagement have allowed MCASD to expand its La Jolla campus at last, allowing for the dedicated display of the celebrated permanent collection alongside the presentation of temporary exhibitions.

In 2014, following an extensive architectural selection process, MCASD publicly announced the decision to engage Selldorf Architects to develop a far-reaching expansion that would maximize gallery space for the collection and increase meeting spaces for the public, all while taking full advantage of the geography and climate of the La Jolla site. Selldorf Architects has achieved an international reputation for work that is sensitive to context and program and thoughtful in execution. Clients include cultural institutions and universities such as the Frick Collection, LUMA Artes, Clark Art Institute, Neue Galerie New York, New York University, and Brown University.

Selldorf’s design calls for new construction to the south that will allow for two levels of light-filled galleries, offering a wide range of volume and character. Vertical windows will welcome the site’s distinct natural light and coastal views into the Museum. A large, flexible multipurpose gallery on the lower level will provide capacity for public programs, artist talks, performance art, music, and other immersive educational activities. By accommodating the required parking spaces underground, the existing parking lot on the north end of campus will be transformed into a public art park. New seaside terraces will offer dramatic views of the Pacific Coast from two levels. MCASD’s operations will be further enhanced by up-to-date back of house spaces including a new loading dock, art preparator’s room, freight elevator, art storage, and two levels of below grade parking.

MCASD’s expansion plan was approved by the La Jolla Community Planning Association in August of 2015. In March 2017, the project received unanimous approval from the San Diego City Planning Commission. City officials praised the transformative project for its design and vision. In April 2017, MCASD received its Coastal Development Permit.

The Museum anticipates two years of construction following groundbreaking, with an opening planned for 2021. The Museum is thankful to its partners in this project, including Gafcon, Inc., LPA Inc., and Selldorf Architects. To stay up-to-date with the Museum’s expansion project, please visit For renderings, plans, project description, or any other information about the project, contact Communications & Marketing Manager Leah Straub at or 858 454 3541 x119.

MCASD continues to deliver high-quality exhibitions and programming at its downtown location at 1100 Kettner Blvd. Currently on view, the exhibition Being Here with You/ Estando aquí contigo: 42 Artists from San Diego and Tijuana brings together work by 42 artists and collectives living and working in the San Diego and Tijuana region. Presenting both early career and established artists, the exhibition highlights distinctive practices shaping conversations and communities in the binational region and beyond. Artists in the exhibition address today’s urgent questions as well as issues affecting our region, including public space and public memory; colonialism and its afterlife; the border as fantasy and reality; housing and homelessness; feminist and queer politics; and the place of the body in the digital world.

For more information about the Museum’s downtown exhibition and related programming, please visit


Founded in 1941, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is the preeminent contemporary visual arts institution in San Diego County. The Museum's collection includes more than 4,700 works of art created since 1950. In addition to presenting exhibitions by international contemporary artists, the Museum serves thousands of children and adults annually at its varied education programs, and offers a rich program of film, performance, and lectures. MCASD is a private, nonprofit organization, with 501c3 tax-exempt status; it is supported by generous contributions and grants from MCASD Members and other individuals, corporations, foundations, and government agencies. Kathryn Kanjo is The David C. Copley Director and CEO at MCASD. Institutional support for MCASD is provided by the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture.