MCASD’s expanded galleries can rival Whitney in NYC when it opens in April


The new Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery in the former Sherwood Auditorium. Photo by Chris Jennewein

Modern art is about to expand in San Diego as the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla is about to reopen in early April with as much gallery space as The Whitney in New York City.

Architect Annabelle Selldorf’s design quadrupled the gallery space from 10,000 square feet to 40,000 square feet while incorporating older parts of the museum, including the Irving Gill designed Ellen Browning Scripps house from 1915 and later additions by other architects.

For the first time, the museum will present a large selection from its 4,700 permanent collection and at the same time show major special exhibitions.

“We’re excited to bring pieces back and see them long term,” said Kathryn Kanjo, Museum CEO. “San Diego deserves this; We are not a sleepy little town. “

Kanjo showed local journalists through the new galleries on Wednesday while workers put the finishing touches to the building. She said the installation of art will start in January in preparation for the reopening and a big public celebration.

The expansion turned the former Sherwood Auditorium into a gigantic gallery space with 22-foot ceilings and excavated two lower galleries from the hillside of La Jolla, while opening up older parts of the facility and integrating adjoining spaces on the property.

Kathryn Kanjo in front of the travertine marble walls of a renovated gallery.

“We grew up, we went deep,” said Kanjo.

The new, higher walls allow the display of some of the greatest works of modern art, while new function rooms allow the museum to host a variety of meetings and celebrations.

The first special exhibition in the reopened museum shows innovative work by popular San Diego artist Niki de Saint Phalle from the 1960s.

The exhibition, which debuts at the Menil Collection in Houston in September, is the first to focus on the artist’s experimental and productive oeuvre during that decade, from the famous “Shooting Paintings” created by gunshots from a .22 caliber are known as, right down to the exuberant sculptures of women Nanas.

MCASD broke ground in late 2018 for the $ 95 million renovation and expansion that was delayed for months due to approval issues and the coronavirus pandemic.

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