San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts

Sep 19, 2009 by Lisa Newton

After my enchanting, vibrant, and colorful visit to Balboa Park’s Botanical Building, I walked across the Park’s Prado, to San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts aka (“MoPA”).

The mission of the Museum of Photographic Arts is to inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film and video.

Since its founding in 1983, the Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) has been devoted to collecting, conserving and exhibiting the entire spectrum of the photographic medium. The museum’s endeavors consistently address cultural, historical and social issues through its exhibitions and public programs.  Source: MoPA

In MoPA’s current exhibition, the work of one of the most well known, and respected photographers in the world—features an overview of Ansel Adams’ extraordinary life, by showcasing his photography of the Sierra Nevada’s and Yosemite Valley, his coverage of the Manzanar Japanese internment camp, his little-known commercial work and color prints, and his famous and iconic signature black and white masterpieces.

The Tetons and the Snake River

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

As a professional photojournalist, I always try to emulate the process of “visualization” of taking a picture in my mind first, and seeing its end result before the shutter is snapped. Adams’ was perhaps one of the true genius’ of knowing what he wanted from a picture before he took it—and many of his iconic pieces will stand the test of time forever.

The Key to a Photograph from Ansel Adams from SilberStudios.Tv on Vimeo.

The rest of the current exhibit includes pictures from the Museum’s permanent collection– Picturing the Process–which provides a reality backdrop from which—and how– we gauge our current world.

The Photograph as Witness explores the ways photography has evolved as a powerful and poignant tool to document history, culture, and events.

The third component of the exhibit includes Jo Whaley’s beautifully layered and detailed photographs of insects, set against intricately constructed backdrops. Her large installations is multi-hued–with color as the background–drawing the viewer into the various pictures of insects that she photographed and juxtaposed between art, science, and an homage to style and substance.

MoPA’s Gift Shop and Membership Information


Not only do I highly recommend becoming a member of MoPA, I also am a huge fan of both their online and onsite unique Gift Shop. They have many interesting things to buy—from books, catalogs, and cards, to lectures, education programs, and curricula, to online prints and other merchandise.

I purchased a Mobile Satellite Photo Clip, which is a photo hanger that hangs from the ceiling. It actually caught my eye as it was literally being used in the Gift Store’s window.

Southern California is home to many of the world’s finest museums, institutions, and arts organizations. As I am Travelin’ Local, today’ story is yet another example of our area’s uniqueness– San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park, is truly one of the greatest museums dedicated to the Art of Photography and Photography as Art in the world.

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Art, Culture, San Diego, SoCal

8 Responses to “San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts”

  1. Mike Goad says:

    Thanks for posting the video with Ansel Adams. He has long been my favorite photographer, but I had never seen any actual footage of him speaking or giving photographic tips.
    Mike Goad´s last blog ..Day Use My ComLuv Profile


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Mike Goad, I’m glad you enjoyed it. I love his ideas about visualization.


  2. Davina says:

    Hi Lisa. I absolutely adore Ansel Adams’ work. Have two of his paintings hanging on my walls… one of them being the first one you’ve shown here “The Grand Tetons, Snake River, Wyoming”. Haven’t listened to the video yet, but fully intend to. Thanks for sharing.
    Davina´s last blog ..Remembering a Friend My ComLuv Profile


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Davina, Seeing his work at the Museum was fantastic. I’d only seen it online before. In person is so much better.


  3. Kevin says:

    Another place I need to visit when I come down in the fall. Thanks for spreading the word about photography, Jo Whaley’s photos are amazing!
    Kevin´s last blog ..Cowichan River Estuary – Vancouver Island My ComLuv Profile


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Kevin The minute I stepped in the door, I felt in the presence of greatness. Then moving from room to room, reading, looking, and embracing the photos, the learning started.


  4. Terry: Museum Educational Materials Designer says:

    I’ve been to Balboa Park’s Botanical building, but I never had the chance to visit the photographic arts museum. Too bad – it seems like a place that I would really enjoy. Your recommendation has put it on the list for my next visit.


    LisaNewton Reply:

    @Terry: Museum Educational Materials Designer, I’m so glad. It’s well worth the time.


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