The collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego includes more than 4,700 works created after 1950, representing a variety of media and genres: painting, sculpture, works on paper, photography, video, and installation. MCASD is known for collecting works by promising emerging artists and under-recognized, mid-career artists, as well as by major figures in international contemporary art.
Among the greatest strengths of the MCASD collection are minimalism and Pop Art of the 1960s and 1970s, conceptual art from the 1960s to the present, installation art, art from Latin America, and art from California and the San Diego/Tijuana region. Many works in the collection are the result of artists’ residencies or works commissioned for MCASD exhibitions. In response to new local, national, and international developments in art, the Museum continually seeks to enhance its strengths and to expand the representation of artistic trends in its collection. At the same time, MCASD preserves, presents, documents, and interprets its holdings for current and future audiences.
MCASD has an ongoing program of art acquisition, through gift, donation, or purchase. New acquisitions support and enhance the strengths of the Museum’s permanent collection as well as institutional initiatives, including a focus on emerging artists and Latin American art. Acquisitions are often directly related to the exhibition program – MCASD will commission artists to create new work as part of an exhibition, then acquire that work for the collection. In this way, exhibition research bears fruit for the permanent collection, and MCASD is able to serve as a primary patron of artists – a key element of the Museum’s mission.
An important source of acquisition funds are the two donor groups at MCASD: International Collectors and Contemporary Collectors. Since 1985, the Collectors have contributed over $2,000,000 in funds to purchase works for the collection, many by emerging artists. In addition, there are numerous contributions each year by individuals and foundations, designated specifically for art acquisition.