Categories: Cornelia Feye, THE BUZZ

THE BUZZ: 5 Reasons why the Merger of SDMA and MoPA is a win-win situation

Cornelia Feye

June 12, 2023

Georgia O’Keeffe; The White Flower (White Trumpet Flower); 1932; Oil on canvas; 29 3/4 x 39 3/4 in. (76 x 101 cm); 1971.12

On July 1, the The San Diego Museum of Art and The Museum of Photographic Arts will merge to become one unified institution. The San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA), located in the heart of Balboa Park, 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 and consists of 22,000 works of art.

The Museum of Photographic Art (MOPA) moved to Balboa Park in 1983, with the objective to assemble an outstanding collection of film, video, and still photography. 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. 

What will happen, after MOPA becomes part of SDMA? And what are the advantages of this move? Here are five reasons, according to Anita Feldman, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Education, why this merger is a win-win situation.

Here are five reasons according to Anita Feldman, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Education.

  1. This merger of both institutions allows the combination of collections, resources, and expertise. It will allow visitors to experience the world of visual art through multiple lenses: painting, photography, prints, sculpture.
  2. Both organizations share a commitment to promoting cultural understanding, education, and diversity. By joining forces, these goals will be achieved more effectively. Photographs and paintings from various cultures and a diverse group of artists can be shown. 
  3. SDMA has exciting growth plans and opportunities in the near future, offering the community even more space to view and learn about new and favorite art forms. With this merger, they will have the opportunity to integrate more disciplines within each exhibition space at either museum location, which will elevate not only the photographic collection exhibitions but hopefully attract new and repeat visitors.
  4. Nothing from MOPA’s collection is currently being moved. The MOPA collection and exhibitions will remain at its current location in the heart of Balboa Park. Both SDMA and MOPA will work together to preserve MOPA’s collection and combine it with SDMA’s existing photographic collection. SDMA 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 collection of more than 9,000 images by 850 artists and 22,000 books and related materials will be added to SDMA’s own photography collection. MOPA will remain open and will feature MOPA’s previously announced exhibition schedule and beyond.
  5. The merger will provide the opportunity of interactions between paintings from SDMA and photography from MoPA, as the example of a photograph of Georgia O’Keeffe by Ansel Adams and a painting by Georgia O’Keeffe, demonstrates.
Ansel Adams. Georgia O’Keeffe and Orville Cox, Canyon de Chelly | National Monument, Arizona, 1937 | Gelatin silver print on paper 7 9/16 x 10 9/16 inches Museum of Photographic Arts, Gift of Weston Gallery, Inc. © The Ansel Adams Publishing Rights Trust


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