Museum of Photographic Arts
On display at San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts are a collection of over 7,000 images from 850 artists and an exploration of the art of photography in all its forms. The pieces inside this small yet well-designed museum inside Balboa Park run the gamut of photography’s history, from early daguerreotypes to photojournalism and avant-garde photo art.
MOPA, as it’s known by locals, displays pieces from its permanent collection in the series of rotating temporary exhibits. The galleries are not large, and most of the museum can be seen in under an hour. Many exhibits tend toward the experimental and are aimed at visitors with a keen interest in photography.
The art house Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theater screens a variety of documentaries and other independent films. Additionally, a library holds more than 20,000 photography-related items that are available to browse and check out for research purposes.
Things to know before you go
- Admission is pay-what-you-wish with a suggested donation.
- Avid photographers who visit the museum are encouraged to submit their own work to be considered as part of the permanent collection.
- The museum is fully wheelchair accessible, with an ADA ramp at the main entrance and accessible parking in adjacent lots.
- American sign language tours are available for each new exhibition, or can be requested with three weeks advance notice.
How to get there
MOPA is located in Balboa Park, across from Casa del Prado. If driving, the closest parking lot is on Space Theater Way, with nearby street parking available along Park Blvd. From other parking lots, catch the free Balboa Park tram to a stop near the museum. Many public buses service Balboa Park.
When to get there
MOPA is open from Friday to Sunday. Take a look at the museum site for library opening hours.
An Art Lovers Guide to Balboa Park
Featuring a wide range of art museums, gardens, and Spanish colonial architecture, Balboa Park offers no shortage of artistic inspiration. Pair a visit to the Museum of Photographic Arts with other cultural destinations, including the San Diego Museum of Art, Timken Museum of Art, San Diego Art Institute, and Centro Cultural de la Raza. In addition to visual arts, look for live performances at the Old Globe, San Diego Youth Symphony, Civic Dance Arts, Starlight Bowl, and landmark Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
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- San Diego Model Railroad Museum (SDMRM)
- San Diego History Center
- El Prado
- Japanese Friendship Garden
- San Diego Museum of Art (SDMA)
- San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)
- Mingei International Museum
- Fleet Science Center
- Spreckels Organ Pavilion
- Spanish Village Art Center
- Old Globe Theater
- San Diego Museum of Man (SDMM)
- Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden
- Balboa Park
- San Diego Zoo