San Diego is a place where artistic spirit and world-class artworks cannot be confined to museums. The streets, art galleries, main library, and other nooks and crannies are overflowing with art. Checking most of it out doubles as a way to enjoy the weather or a night on the town, so pack a good pair of walking shoes to take in some of San Diego’s best works.
May S. Marcy Sculpture Court & Garden
Works by Auguste Rodin, Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Alexander Calder and other celebrated artists make a stroll through the San Diego Museum of Art's May S. Marcy Sculpture Court & Garden a fascinating immersion in 20th-century sculptural inspiration. The artworks are set amid beautiful landscaping, and the space affords stunning views of the neighboring California Tower and other facets of Balboa Park. The garden's lawn area is also a popular location for everything from weddings to film screenings under the stars..
When it comes to murals, few places can boast as many as Oceanside, where 30 of them add color to restaurants, coffee shops, alleys and other sites around town, with nine more slated for completion over the next few years. Seeing every last one requires a map and a bit of legwork. But just about any outing in Oceanside will take in some of this art.
Fault Whisper and Other Downtown Works
Downtown San Diego is rich in public art and any tour should include “Fault Whisper,” an award-winning piece installed in Fault Line Park in 2015. The husband-and-wife team who dreamed up the twin, 7-foot-tall silver orbs created them to record the slightest movements in the earthquake fault beneath the park.
Murals and more in two vibrant communities
North Park and South Park
These two urban neighborhoods that wrap around Balboa Park are crucibles of creativity, and they pop with such streetside art as Channin Fulton’s “You Are Radiant!” in North Park. You’ll find that mural on Ray Street — a hotspot for artist studios and galleries, and just a block over from the new Connect San Diego creative hub on 30th Street.
UCSD Stuart Collection
Students rushing between classes aren’t the only people who can enjoy the impressive Stuart Collection dispersed around UCSD’s campus. Anyone can visit the 19 site-specific works that range from traditional sculptures to precariously perched houses to manicured gardens and snake-like footpaths.
Balboa Park Museums and Spanish Village Art Center
With 18 museums and cultural institutions, art aficionados will find plenty to enjoy in Balboa Park. The San Diego Museum of Art and Timken Museum of Art are obvious stops — and few places are better for simultaneously enjoying the outdoors and the creative spirit than the Spanish Village Art Center, a collection of three dozen artist studios dotting a cobblestone-lined courtyard.
WNDR San Diego
San Diego's newest museum conjures a dazzling collection of interactive art exhibits that immerse visitors in sight, sound and even taste. Part of a four-city network of similar attractions, WNDR San Diego includes such experiences as "GOD:TEMPO," an audiovisual symphony inside a 360-degree immersive theater; a trippy "infinity room" dubbed Quantum Mirror; and an installation with two panels from a mural by the late Keith Haring. The taste exhibit, meanwhile, is calibrated — like much of the museum — to mess with your senses. Select after-hours happenings round out the WNDR experience.
Bonus - Art at the Central Library
With its enormous metal bonnet, San Diego's Central Library is a work of art in itself. Yet, besides the works of literature and music in its archives—and even the actual Art Gallery on the Ninth Floor—the entire library was designed by architect Rob Quigley to showcase art. Every floor features pieces in a variety of media.
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