May 28 2014 01:35 PM

Balboa Park institution's new space is meant to educate and entice

seenlocal2
Sandra Benito (right) and SDMA’s education and public-outreach team
Photo by Kinsee Morlan

Balboa Park's San Diego Museum of Art will unveil The Welcome Gallery to the public on Saturday, May 31, to coincide with the opening of Sorolla and America, an exhibition featuring paintings by Spanish painter Joaquín Sorolla y Bastida.

"It's a free public place where people can wander around, sit down, read and explore," says Sandra Benito, the museum's deputy director of education and public engagement, as she gives me a preview of the new space, which is accessible through SDMA's main entrance.

Benito and her education team walked me through The Welcome Gallery, showing off the hands-on exhibits. There's a looping video on the museum's Open Spaces project, which helps create public art in underserved neighborhoods like Lincoln Park. There's a replica of "Quince, Cabbage, Melon and Cucumber" by Juan Sánchez Cotán, the most famous piece in the museum's collection, which people are invited to touch and feel while listening to audio clips. And there are other interactive experiences, like the installation that invites people to explore what museum curators, registrars and educators do behind the scenes. That piece includes a BuzzFeed-like quiz that helps people find out which job they'd most enjoy.

The Welcome Gallery, Benito says, is meant to give folks a free glimpse of the museum, its permanent collection and the temporary shows (a documentary film on Sorolla, for example, will screen in part of the new gallery while the exhibit's on view). The idea, of course, is to get people to want to see more of the museum.

Architect James Brown of Public Architecture + Planning and the Bread & Salt alternative art space, helped SDMA build The Welcome Gallery. He restored the room to its original architecture and enlisted muralist Mario Torero, who painted a map on the ceiling, and furniture designer Jason Lane, whose sleek modern designs can be spotted throughout.


Write to editor@sdcitybeat.com and follow Kinsee on Facebook or Twitter 

Calendar

  • Known as the ‘Official Scripps National Spelling Bee Watch Party for Adults,’ guests can cheer on kids in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on ESPN before competing in a spelling bee themselves
  • The renowned Mexican black and white photographer presents an exhibition exploring the principal themes within three groups: "Bestiarium"," Fantastic Women" and "Silent Natures."
  • Debunk some of the stereotypes surrounding cannibalism at this new exhibition that takes a hands-on approach to the subject. Includes video games and interactive activities where patrons will have to decide...
  • A mass action against the closing of the UCSD University Art Gallery. Participants will meet at the Silent Tree (located near the Library Walk) and march together toward the Gallery
  • Local science illustrator Melissa Walter presents new abstract works that are literal interpretations of astronomical theories
  • So Say We All invites listeners to hear stories about real life, the internet, the ways those places intersect or the way they don't intersect at all, told by seven locals
  • The author, comic book writer, and son of Stephen King will sign his new apocalyptic thriller, The Fireman
See all events on Thursday, May 26