May 23, 2023

The San Diego Museum of Art Announces Merger with The Museum of Photographic Arts

These two historic institutions unite to create a dynamic cultural destination celebrating the beauty and diversity of visual arts

San Diego, CA. (May 23, 2023) – The San Diego Museum of Art and The Museum of Photographic Arts announced today that they will merge to become one unified institution. This strategic merger will allow the combination of collections, resources, and expertise for the benefit of the San Diego community and beyond.

The San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA) is one of the city’s oldest and most esteemed institutions, founded in 1926 with a collection that spans over 5,000 years of art history. The San Diego Museum of Art has more than 22,000 works of art, having added thousands of photographs to its collection over the last eight years, and has hosted over 20 photographic exhibitions in the last decade, all of which were curated in-house. A few of the most memorable exhibitions were Romantic Views: Photography of Mexico; Black Life: Images of Resistance and Resilience; Mary Ellen Mark: Twins; Lisa Ross: Elegy to a Uyghur Homeland; Masters of Photography: The Garner Collection; Wang Xingsong: Social Mobility; and Mountain Meadow Citadel: The Many Landscapes of Afghanistan, which is currently on view at the Museum through September 17, 2023; and Bruce Davidson: Subway, which opens on June 3, 2023. SDMA also maintains a dedicated area for photography within its Visible Vaults as well as integrates video and photographic works within the Art of the Americas and Modern and Contemporary Art galleries.

With its move into a permanent home in Balboa Park in 1983, the main objective of The Museum of Photographic Art (MOPA) at the time was to assemble an outstanding collection of film, video, and still photography—a repository of its cultural heritage. A plan was put in place to create an active, participatory museum, alive with programs and collections that were an important part of this new institution.

Today, the MOPA collection holds over 9,000 images by 850 artists and 22,000 books and related materials highlighting photographic processes and art objects relevant to the medium. With a global focus, MOPA exhibitions have ranged from Sebastião Salgado: Genesis to Out of the Shadows: Contemporary Chinese Photography. Other exhibitions have contributed new scholarship to the field, including Nancy Newhall: A Literacy of Images, The Time Between: The Sequences of Minor White, and Aaron Siskind: Mid Century Modern. Currently on view are Arresting Beauty: Julia Margaret Cameron from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Robert Wilson: Video Portraits, and The Water Holds Me: Photographs by Suda House.

With MOPA becoming a part of SDMA, together, these two museums will unite a diverse range of art forms and resources, allowing visitors to experience the world of visual art through multiple lenses.

“The merger of these two institutions will enhance the visitor experience by leveraging our mutual cultural resources,” says Roxana Velásquez, Maruja Baldwin Executive Director and CEO at The San Diego Museum of Art. “We will be able to share a greater story told together through photography and in dialogue with our overall collection, as both organizations share a commitment to promoting cultural understanding, education, and diversity. By joining forces, we can achieve these goals more effectively.”

The San Diego Museum of Art will now house a new department called The Museum of Photographic Arts at The San Diego Museum of Art, focused solely on photographic arts. MOPA’s existing collection will join SDMA’s collection, providing visitors with a more comprehensive view of the art form.

“MOPA has always been a museum that embraces change, from multiple community partners in our education and film programs to bi-lingual text for all of our exhibitions,” says Deborah Klochko, Lawrence S. Friedman Executive Director and Chief Curator at The Museum of Photographic Arts. “Together, with our similar missions and combined photography collections, there will be so much more for our audiences.”

The San Diego Museum of Art and The Museum of Photographic Arts will officially merge on July 1, 2023. Klochko will take the role of Curatorial Advisor and implement MOPA’s current exhibition schedule, and assist with the transition period through December 2023. The newly combined institution will continue to offer a range of programming that includes exhibitions, educational initiatives, and community outreach programs.

For more information about the merger, please visit

About The San Diego Museum of Art

Providing a rich and diverse cultural experience, The San Diego Museum of Art houses some of the world’s finest art. Located in the heart of Balboa Park, the Museum’s internationally renowned collection of more than 22,000 works—dating from 3000 BC to present day—includes Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings; East Asian art, American art, and Modern and Contemporary paintings and sculptures. The Museum regularly features major exhibitions of art from around the world, as well as an extensive year-round schedule supporting cultural and educational programs for all ages. It also hosts engaging experiences that invite visitors to explore art through music, dance, film, food, and so much more. At The San Diego Museum of Art, exhibition text is always in English and Spanish.

The San Diego Museum of Art is located at 1450 El Prado in Balboa Park, San Diego, Calif., 92101. General Information, (619) 232-7931, Group Sales: (619) 696-1935, Website:

Twitter: @SDMA, Instagram: @SanDiegoMuseumofArt Facebook: @TheSanDiegoMuseumofArt.

About The Museum of Photographic Arts/Becky Moores Center for Visual Learning

Located in the Casa de Balboa on El Prado, MOPA has 33,000 square feet on two levels of multi-use space which holds offices, the Edmund and Nancy Dubois library, classroom and collection storage.  This includes 6,500 square feet of gallery space; a museum shop, the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theater a destination for film festivals: Asian Film Festival, Arab Film Festival, FilmOUT, Pac Arts, San Diego International Film Festival, KPBS’ GI Film Festival, Human Right Watch Film Festival, Italian Film Festival and more.