Best Art in San Diego – Museums and Galleries

Top 10 Art Destinations in San Diego

San Diego is a colorful, vibrant city full of things to do, top-notch attractions, gorgeous beaches and superb weather. It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking for somewhere that is relaxed, laid-back, and super friendly with beautiful scenery. If you’re into the arts, San Diego has plenty of that as well. There are numerous high-quality museums, dedicated to telling the story of this town’s cultural heritage and rich history.

San Diego’s museums are a great place to explore San Diego’s past but are also a wonderful way to spend an afternoon relishing diverse art forms from all eras and all cultures. Many of the city’s best museums are located in Balboa Park but there are others scattered all over San Diego. Here are the top 10 art destinations in San Diego.

Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego

If you’re into contemporary art, then make a stop at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego. This great museum has locations both in downtown San Diego and LaJolla, each holding amazing exhibitions and incredible collections of contemporary art from sculptures, photography, paintings and more.

San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts

If you love photography, then a visit to the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts is warranted. Known as MOPA to the locals, this small museum located in the picturesque Balboa Park has amazing exhibitions, and a solid permanent collection of 7,000 photographs from the 19th Century onward that will really make you think.

Timken Museum

While in the historic Balboa Park, you may also be interested in visiting one of most popular San Diego art museums; the Timken Museum. This small museum is world-renowned and has three distinct collections; 18th and 19th Century American art, Russian art and various European paintings from the renaissance. Don’t be fooled by its small size; many of the pieces here come from top museums such as the Metropolitan in New York and the National Gallery in Washington D.C.

San Diego Museum of Art

Another great museum to check out in Balboa Park is the San Diego Museum of Art which houses a great collection of Asian, European and American art and many remarkable exhibitions. This museum hosts many interesting art programs, events and performances for multiple audiences.

Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park

If you want an interesting museum experience, be sure to visit the Mingei International Museum in Balboa Park. This museum is dedicated to folk art, design and crafts of Native American and Asian cultures, and many others from Africa and the Middle East. There are various traveling exhibitions and great art programs and events to that are worth looking into.

Reuben H Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park

The Reuben H Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park is a top-notch museum that is a lot of fun for both kids and adults. There are a lot of interactive learning tools and hands on science activities your kids will love. This museum is also home to the world’s first IMAX Dome theater which offers incredible 3D films, and is the first IMAX Theater to offer IMAX films in Spanish.

New Children’s Museum in East Village

If your kids haven’t gotten enough of child-friendly museums, then spur their imagination and creativity by taking them to the New Children’s Museum in East Village. There a lot of exhibitions and games kids can engage in. There are a lot of areas where they can make their own art with clay or paints, and even an outdoor playground and jungle gym where they can safely burn off their energy.

Spanish Village Art Center

If you want to experience some local art, then you should visit the Spanish Village Art Center which is a community of over 250 local painters, sculptors, metal smiths, clay, glass and jewelry artists and much more. Here you can experience what a Spanish village looks like; watch studio artists at work and even purchase some of their creations along the way.

Whaley House Museum

While in San Diego, you must pay a visit to what is known as the most haunted house in America. The Whaley House Museum is a perfectly preserved with restored mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival architecture located in Old Town San Diego. This is a historically significant museum which was the home of County Court House, a school, a general store, and the city’s first movie theater. Many people have reported meeting the ghosts of the original Whaley House inhabitants during their visits.

San Diego’s Subtext Gallery in Little Italy

If you want to take a break from all the museums, then visit a gallery instead. San Diego’s Subtext Gallery located in Little Italy is particularly popular and offers diverse pop and surreal artwork and unique architecture. Locals love attending this gallery’s great art shows and openings, with a lot of music-spinning DJs, free drinks and appetizers.

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