“A Lasting Treasure”: The Museum of Contemporary Art opens the reinvented campus of La Jolla to an “amazed” audience

To the applause of the hundreds of visitors waiting to enter the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on the day of the grand reopening on April 9, Kathryn Kanjo, director and managing director of David C. Copley, offered a glimpse of “a lasting one Treasure that will last for generations is coming.”

MCASD welcomed the community back to its flagship La Jolla location at 700 Prospect St. after a four-year, multi-million dollar renovation that more than doubled the square footage and completely revamped the existing space.

Crowds lined Prospect Street north to Eads Avenue and beyond to view the art and new architecture designed by Selldorf Architects.

The project renovated 28,000 square feet of existing rooms and added 46,400 square feet of new rooms, bringing the total size of the museum to 105,000 square feet.

The new spaces include a completely redesigned main building, now called the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building in honor of longtime supporters and La Jollans, whose $20 million fundraiser provided the basis for the museum’s extensive fundraising effort.

The building contains the new suite of Strauss Galleries, built where the Sherwood Auditorium used to stand, as well as the Foster, Pfister and other galleries, named for the donors who funded their construction.

MCASD La Jolla’s several new spaces include the Sahm Seaview Room and the Bartell Terrace.

(Elisabeth Frausto)

The design also includes new public areas such as the Sahm Seaview Room and Bartell Terrace, formerly a loading dock; the outdoor art park, which used to be a parking lot; and other terraces and walkways by the sea.

The renovation also realigns the museum’s front entrance to Prospect Street with a new entrance pavilion.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego unveiled its renovation to the public on April 9 at 700 Prospect St., La Jolla.

The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego unveiled its renovation to the public on April 9 at 700 Prospect St., La Jolla.

(Courtesy of Joan Plaehn)

Shortly before the reopening and four days after a ribbon cutting attended by San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria and others, San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said he was “overwhelmed by how they managed to change the place.”

He said the building is “an art in itself and certainly celebrates its location on the coast”.

Grant Oliphant, Joe LaCava, Paul Jacobs and Kathryn Kanjo cut the ribbon before MCASD opened to the public on April 9.

Conrad Prebys Foundation CEO Grant Oliphant, City Councilman Joe LaCava, MCASD President Paul Jacobs and MCASD CEO Kathryn Kanjo (from left) cut the ribbon prior to the museum’s April 9 opening to the public.

(Elisabeth Frausto)

MCASD is currently hosting two exhibitions:

• “Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s” is the first West Coast exhibition to focus on the experimental and prolific work of French-American artist de Saint Phalle, who spent her final years in La Jolla and died in 2002. Co-curated by The Menil Collection in Houston, it features significant paintings, sculptures and assemblages from the artist’s career.

• “Selections from the Collection” highlights works from the more than 5,600 pieces in the museum’s collection, curated since 1950, including artworks by John Baldessari, Larry Bell, Sam Gilliam, Robert Irwin, Barbara Kruger, Bruce Nauman, Helen Pashgian and Martin Puryear, Marcos Ramírez ERRE and more.

MCASD Board President Paul Jacobs said on April 9 that he was pleased the museum could finally share its “world-class art collection, much of which has been kept in a vault for … decades.”

Outside on a patio overlooking Coast Boulevard, La Jolla resident Kathleen Jay said she loves the renovated museum. “It’s beautiful,” she said.

David Hrabe and Sandy Somers of Scottsdale, Arizona, said they saw the museum under construction on a visit two years ago and passed by on a return visit when it reopened.

“We were thrilled,” Somers said. “You did a wonderful job of showing things.”

“The exhibition in Saint Phalle is interesting,” said Hrabe.

Cindy Goodman, president of the Rotary Club of La Jolla, said, “I’m amazed. It’s such a change.”

Pieces from the Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla.

Pieces from the Niki de Saint Phalle in the 1960s exhibition are on view at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla.

(Courtesy of Joan Plaehn)

The reopening included live music and arts activities, as well as appetizers from Urban Kitchen Group, who have been tasked with overseeing a new restaurant called The Kitchen @ MCASD, which will open in early summer.

Grant Oliphant, executive director of the Conrad Prebys Foundation, said MCASD celebrates a “combination of curiosity and joy, awe and wonder.”

The Foundation funds Prebys Play Day, which began on April 10th and takes place every second Sunday of the month.

Preby’s Play Days include free tours specially created for multi-generational participants to take at their own pace, plus treasure hunts, hands-on art activities and more.

MCASD’s regular hours of operation are Thursday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Admission is $25 for adults ($20 for San Diego County and Tijuana residents), $15 for students and seniors, and free for members and children under 17. Other discounts are available. To learn more, visit mcasd.org.

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