San Diego is an extraordinary place. In addition to its natural beauty, it is a place of cultural wonder. Our arts institutions are a source of joy, splendor, and pride, and provide meaning and connection for communities across the region.
But the pandemic created challenges for arts organizations of all kinds – here and across the country. According to the American Alliance of Museums, a staggering 60 percent of museums have reported pandemic-related financial losses since March 2020, with an average loss of over $791,000. Moreover, the top 100 art museums experienced a significant decline in attendance, with numbers falling from 230 million visitors in 2019 to 141 million visitors in 2022.
San Diego’s arts institutions have felt the pain as well. In the face of mounting financial challenges, the Museum of Photographic Arts turned to its colleagues and friends at the San Diego Museum of Art in search of a solution. Together, they have established a groundbreaking collaboration, as the San Diego Museum of Art inaugurates a new department called the Museum of Photographic Arts at the San Diego Museum of Art, dedicated exclusively to photographic arts. This initiative embodies the spirit of innovation and problem-solving that characterizes San Diego.
The Conrad Prebys Foundation is proud to provide a grant of $300,000 to support this transformative effort. The decision to merge MOPA and SDMA is a testament to the longstanding relationship between the organizations, marked by mutual respect, shared educational values, and a growing collection of photographic art at the San Diego Museum of Art. These institutions have recognized their natural alliance and the potential to create something truly exceptional. The merger represents a powerful partnership that will amplify the impact of their artistic offerings, benefiting the local community and beyond.
We applaud the leadership of MOPA and SDMA for their foresight, creativity, and dedication to serving the community's needs. However, their success relies on the support of the broader community. We urge everyone to actively participate in this transformative move. By attending exhibits, engaging with the artistic offerings, and most importantly, providing vital financial support, we can ensure the long-term resilience and prosperity of not only MOPA and SDMA but also other cherished institutions in our arts community.
Read the Museum of Art's press release here.
Grant Oliphant is CEO of The Conrad Prebys Foundation, a major independent foundation working to strengthen San Diego’s future through a focus on impact in the arts, medical research and healthcare, youth success, and higher education.