The Museum is proud to partner with individuals, schools and foundations to bring the arts to underserved audiences.

By removing the financial barriers and taking art to the audiences, Museum artist-educators provide multiple-visit programs that are tailored to the needs of underserved audiences, especially at-risk teens.

Among the sites served by Museum outreach are ALBA (Alternative Learning for Behavior and Attitude), The Monarch School, Bayside Blended, Kearny Mesa Juvenile Detention Facility, and Chula Vista Middle School.

If you would like more information about these programs, please contact us at

Artist-in-Residence Program

Sponsored by the Arts Education Council

The Museum’s Arts Education Council funds artist residencies at elementary schools in East County. In the coming school year (2019-20), a Museum artist-educator will visit four schools in the La Mesa Spring Valley School District: La Mesa Dale, Avondale, Casa de Oro and Highlands..

The Artist-in-Residence Program develops art lessons centered on Museum exhibition content and presents art processes and methods to classroom teachers so that they may continue implementing art curriculum after the end of the residency. The program includes a visit to the Museum and an exhibition of student work shown in the Museum’s Auditorium.

School in the Park

Funded through the generosity of Price Charities, School in the Park is an innovative program that shifts the location of school from a traditional classroom setting in an inner-city school to the resources and educational opportunities available at museums in Balboa Park. The instructional environment offers interactive learning and encourages students to become active participants in their own education. The participating third- to eighth-grade students and their families are invited to return to the Museum free of charge.

Students from Rosa Parks Elementary and Wilson Middle School participate in a program that is designed to utilize fully the unique educational opportunities of San Diego’s cultural institutions in Balboa Park. The plan allows the students to spend up to eight weeks at San Diego’s famous Balboa Park, where they participate in week-long educational programs at nine institutions. In essence, the students spend almost 25% of their school year learning in this hands-on, real world setting.

Visits to museums and cultural institutions give added depth and meaning to the students’ understanding of subjects covered in their school materials. The School in the Park program engages students in learning that has real world connections.

Outreach To At-Risk Teens

To help fill the void left by program and budget cuts in schools, the Museum offers an ambitious outreach program that serves over two thousand underserved youth and is particularly committed to working with young people who are considered “at-risk.” The Museum offers long-term, multiple visit programs with professional artist/educators who can spend time with students and help them express themselves through art.

Throughout the year, museum educators visit up to twelve sites, providing anywhere between six and twenty workshop sessions, visits to the Museum, and a final reception or exhibition.

Among the sites is the Monarch School, the only school of its kind in the country that serves homeless students. The Museum provides the art education module and the program consists of sequential arts learning experiences and Museum visits throughout the school year.

The teen art program at ALBA (Alternative Learning for Behavior and Attitude) is an interdisciplinary educational program for middle school students who have been expelled from the San Diego Unified School District. Using art as a vehicle, the program is designed to promote an artistic outlet, social growth, critical thinking, and to make students aware of career opportunities in the arts.

Kearny Mesa Juvenile Court School is one of the two juvenile detention centers in the region, with a fluctuating student body. While the students cannot leave the detention centers to visit the Museum, the workshops are designed to expose the youth to the connection between art and everyday life, and they provide a creative outlet in what is otherwise a rigid environment.

Other outreach sites include Bayside Blended School for students that are on probation in the heart of Barrio Logan and Chula Vista Middle School, which serves working class first generation and immigrant Mexican-American students; 

Memories at the Museum | Alzheimer Tour

Participate in “Memories at the Museum” a collaboration with UCSD’s Alzheimer’s Research Center, the Timken Museum, Mingei International, and MOPA to offer tours to people with mild-to-moderate Alzheimer’s Outreach program serves student, senior centers, libraries, community organizations. For more information please email Dr. James Grebl, Manager of Docent Programs, at

Docent In-School Presentations

The Museum’s Docent Council offers in-school power point presentations for K-12 students. Learn more.


The Museum participates in family festivals and fairs throughout the community. Museum staff and volunteers offer an art making activity related to a current exhibition, encouraging participants to visit the Museum.

You can meet the SDMA staff at Chicano Park Festival (spring), Market Creek Arts & Culture Festival (fall), Día de la Mujer (spring), Diwali Festival of Lights (fall), and Día de los Muertos (fall).

Open Spaces

The San Diego Museum of Art’s Open Spaces public art program was funded by a generous grant from the James Irvine Foundation’s Exploring Engagement Fund. From a radio station to public interventions, the Museum worked with four San Diego county neighborhoods (Lincoln Park, Logan Heights, Lemon Grove, and National City) to engage new audiences by supporting, implementing, and collaborating on the development of public art and art education programs throughout the county. An Artist-In-Residence was selected for 2013 and 2014 to work with two San Diego communities and Lead Artists to develop and realize a new public work in each community.

During each project community members work with selected artists’ and Museum representatives to determine the content, location, and media of each work of art, and decide how this work reflects the unique character of their community.

The Museum created partnerships with new audiences that strengthened San Diego’s cultural environment and celebrate beauty in local communities through:

  • The creation of permanent, iconic works of public artworks which reflect the unique social fabric of each area, and strengthen a personal sense of identity and place.
  • Spur cultural tourism and demonstrate the positive, economic impact of public art.
  • Engage neighbors in a collaborative art project while building meaningful and enduring relationships between residents and the Museum.
  • Support the imagination, uniqueness, and significance of local communities.

To learn more about the Open Spaces public art program, please see our press release and this article regarding the project in Lemon Grove as well as this one regarding the project in National City.