Musing Over the Museum

The Reopening of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego


Joyce Wu

The Museum of Contemporary Arts San Diego can be recognized but its large statue of boats on the top of its building. A little sneak peak into what kinds of work are showcased at the museum.

Museum-goers and art lovers are in for a treat now that the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has reopened. It’s near the Bishop’s campus, so that students may be walking to Brick and Bell and walk past the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (MCASD) that has been encased in construction fences since 2018. But now, students can finally see what’s inside. 

Ms. Karla Centeno, the Director of Education & Engagement at MCASD, said that these renovations “now offer four times the current gallery space, two levels of light-filled galleries, a public park, and new seaside terraces with the renovation.” The new design includes the renovation of 28,000 square feet of existing space, as well as the addition of 46,400 square feet of new space. 

Before the museum shut down, the Bishop’s visual arts department used to be very involved with the MCA. Ms. Grenader, a Visual Arts teacher, mentioned, “the museum was always a great resource [for students], being just a short walk over there for a quick field trip.” When it opens, students are encouraged to go even if they are not a part of the visual arts program, as tickets for people under the age of 18 are free.

The Museum of Contemporary Art has a wide variety of art collections. The upcoming exhibitions feature a permanent collection of work by Niki De Saint Phalle from the 1960s. “She was an important artist who came to San Diego towards the end of her career,” Ms. Wepsic explains. Saint Phalle’s work incorporated elements of sculpture, painting and mosaic art. “You’ll see artwork from Ellsworth Kelly, Ai Weiwei, Miriam Shapiro, Carrie Mae Weems, Andy Warhol, John Baldessari, Robert Irwin, Byron Kim, Sam Gilliam, Yayoi Kusama, and many more many more,” according to Ms. Centeno.

Many of these artists are a part of the contemporary art movement. According to Ms. Elizabeth Wepsic, the Chair of Visual Arts, contemporary art is a category of art that spans from the 1950s to now. Contemporary art is also considered “post-modern” art. “In art history, the modern art movement began around 1900-1950…where the artists got together and formed groups that identified with specific styles and theories of art. Like the surrealists depicting their dreams.” Contemporary art on the other hand focuses more on the ideas and concepts instead. Think of contemporary art as succeeding the modern era. 

Actually, Ms. Wepsic mentioned that she and Mr. Kim have been collaborating with MCA in hopes that “everyone at Bishops can appreciate and engage in meaningful museum visits and art making.” “Students can also expect to visit the museum often if they are in a visual art class and have opportunities to intern, create, and exhibit their own art because we are connected to the Museum of Contemporary Art through both our histories and our visions,” Ms. Wepsic explains. 

An interesting fact is that Ms. Wepsic worked at the MCA when she just got out of college, and her time at the museum has deeply influenced her career here at Bishop’s. Ms. Wepsic helped create and design the educational program of the MCA, and has led her down the path of a teacher, eventually coming to Bishop’s.

With so much history surrounding Bishop’s and Museum of Contemporary Art, the Visual Arts Department implores you to go because tickets are free for those under 18!