Experience Three San Diego Museums (Virtually)


Mariam Mustafa

Arts & Entertainment writer Mariam Mustafa offers fellow art lovers a compilation of her favorite virtual art galleries.

A year has passed since I, an amateur art historian and enthusiast, have stepped foot inside either an art gallery or a museum. Thankfully, San Diego museums have a plethora of online resources for those of us who crave and breathe art in its most physical form. Virtual exhibits are an amazing way to satisfy your artistic tooth over and over again with repeated clicks of your mouse. I’ve compiled three of my favorite art galleries in San Diego with links to view enlightening pieces from the comfort of your own home.

The San Diego Museum of Art at Balboa Park

The San Diego Museum of Art at Balboa Park takes the virtual museum experience to a completely unexpected level through virtual galleries, tours, podcasts, and performances. I was most impressed by the 360º Virtual Gallery Experience on the Museum’s website due to its organized nature and fluid UX interface. Rather than simply clicking through a series of guiding pictures representing artistic works, the entire museum has been digitized into a satellite Google Maps-esque virtual experience. One can “climb” the entrance steps to view upstairs galleries, admire the architecture of the museum, and observe a birds-eye view of the entire Museum of Art, rotating the model to locate the desired section of art. This allows the viewer to feel the sensation of being present in a physical museum through the ability to observe more than just art pieces, but also to take in the museum as a whole. It is clear that the SDMA is committed to perpetuating the in-person museum experience for online visitors — in addition to the realistic museum model, all descriptions accompanying artwork have been digitally uploaded so that viewers can also understand the historical context behind specific pieces. To expand upon the themes of art in the galleries, the SDMA compiled a list of books revolving around similar topics to supplement and enhance the viewer’s knowledge. 

To view a comprehensive list of online offerings The San Diego Museum of Art at Balboa Park has to offer, visit their website at https://www.sdmart.org/virtual-sdma/

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

With a whole website dedicated to the digitization of artistic exhibitions and collections in a thematic fashion, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego makes navigating their digital collections and compilations seamless. Complete exhibitions are online, and the main website of the museum indicates upcoming exhibitions. Additionally, under MCASD: Digital’s “Collections” tab, lies contemplative impressions and detailed background information of various artworks and collections. Viewers also have the opportunity to share their own reflections of specific artworks to transform the digital experience into a communicative and interactive one. 

To view the main Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego website, visit https://www.mcasd.org

To view MCASD: Digital, visit https://www.mcasd.digital.

To contribute your reflections, visit https://react.mcasd.org

San Diego Art Institute

Until Sunday, March 28, 2021, the San Diego Art Institute is hosting a virtual exhibition, titled “Illumination,” with works of varying mediums from 26 artists. Soundscapes and a 360º view of the exhibition via a Youtube playlist dedicated to 11 artworks are all part of “Illumination”’s virtual experience. Detailed background information regarding works in this exhibition reveal the social commentary of these collective works — the themes of “Illumination” include technology, climate change, the human condition, and their middle grounds. 

To view the San Diego Art Institute’s website, visit https://www.sandiego-art.org.

To view “Illumination,” and for links to the soundscapes, 360 views, and exhibition catalog, visit https://www.sandiego-art.org/illumination-onli#john-burnett-soundscape

Image courtesy of balboapark.org.