With so many museums in Santa Barbara, how do you choose? Here are 5 reasons to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Barbara (MCASB). It’s a little tricky to find as it’s on the second floor of the Paseo Nuevo Shopping Center. With that in mind, combine a day of shopping with a visit to the museum.
But what should you expect in a contemporary art museum? Contemporary art is created by current-day, living artists. Through their work, artists explore personal or cultural identity, and in doing so, offer a critique on modern social or institutional structures. Thought-provoking questions may be raised without actually providing answers. An open mind and a curious spirit are necessary tools to bring when experiencing modern art, as well as the willingness to discuss and debate.
#1 Exhibitions Change 3-4 Times a Year
MCASB is celebrating 45 years of existence in numerous locations. The move to the current 3,500 square foot location occurred in 1990. It is a non-collecting museum and changes exhibitions 3-4 times each year. Exhibitions represent mediums of many forms, challenging the visitor’s ideas about what art should look like or how it should behave. Several recent exhibits sought to reflect on the consequences of the pandemic.
#2 Admission is Free
MCASB is a nonprofit entity, so admission is absolutely free. Donations, however, are appreciated and memberships are available. This almost breaks down to two different reasons: admission is free and it’s a great option for your charitable contributions.
#3 Artist Talks & Workshops
Along with the quarterly exhibitions, MCASB offers artist talks and workshops several times each month. These can include such diverse topics as documenting phosphenes, artists discussing their exhibition, or a Halloween mask workshop. They are typically free for members and available to the general public for a nominal fee.
#4 Local Artists are Featured
Although MCASB hosts many national and international artists, there is an emphasis on local artists. The museum began as a grassroots artist-run organization with nominal funding. It now serves as a launching pad for local emerging artists. Local artists who initially exhibited at MCASB and have since achieved international acclaim include Jane Callister, Ann Diener, Penelope Gottlieb, Keith Puccinelli, and Richard Ross. MCASB is the only Santa Barbara museum with ongoing exhibitions featuring new dance, music, video, and performance art.
#5 Special Events
Along with the artist talks and workshops, MCASB hosts a number of special events throughout the year. These include the December Gift Studio on the first two Saturdays of December including crafts, holiday drinks, and unique gifts. Curated Cocktails is part of Santa Barbara’s First Thursday celebrations and includes specialty cocktails and workshops hosted by local artists.
MCASB current hours of operation:
Sundays: 12 – 5pm
Mondays & Tuesdays: Closed
Wednesdays, Fridays, & Saturdays: 11 am – 5 pm
Thursdays: 11 am – 8 pm
Address: Paseo Nuevo Upper Arts Terrace, 653 Paseo Nuevo, Santa Barbara CA
MCASB is located on the Paseo Nuevo Upper Arts Terrace, above Eureka
Use the tiled stairs facing Chapala Street to access our Main Entrance
Whether you are surprised, perplexed, or thrilled by what you see at MSASB, the exhibitions will always inspire you to reflect on the issues important to you and the community. Make sure you visit several times, and remember, every artwork was once contemporary. Certainly, these 5 Reasons to Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art in Santa Barbara should inspire you to plan an inspiring getaway. Don’t forget to include Santa Barbara’s favorite beachside hotel, The Eagle Inn in your plans. Book your stay today.