San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts

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These days, everyone seems to be a photographer. With the technology that is available to us, there is no shortage of beautiful photos of all different subjects everywhere you turn. Luckily, we have a local museum that curates some very vibrant, socially relevant, provocative photography, films, and videos. We are fortunate to have a space that is dedicated to the photographic arts right in our own backyard.

The Museum of Photographic Arts is one of the few independent institutions in the country devoted to photography, film and video. Founded in 1983, MOPA consistently addresses cultural, historical and social issues through its visual learning programs. In March 2015, it became the first museum in Southern California to offer a “Pay What You Wish” admissions policy. Visitors chose the admission price with a voluntary contribution instead of standard admission every day the museum is open, which makes the experience accessible to a wider audience.

A vibrant center for visual learning, MOPA’s mission is to inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film and video. Exhibitions are presented in English and Spanish with work from the museum’s collection of nearly 9,000 images as well as from contemporary artists, representing the entire history of photography. The museum’s Edmund L. and Nancy Dubois Library strengthens the permanent collection with more than 24,000 items all related to photography. Visitors may enjoy the library annex located within the museum galleries. Housed within the museum, MOPA’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theater hosts locally supported film festivals that explore visual storytelling while inciting meaningful dialogue among its audiences.

Throughout the year, MOPA presents a range of rotating exhibitions from solo photographers to group shows from artists around the world. It also offers visual learning opportunities to complement the exhibitions, such as American Sign Language Tours, conversations with artists and hands-on workshops. Visitors are encouraged to take photos at the museum and create their own art to enhance their trip (a very unique sentiment for an art museum!)

There are plenty of interesting ongoing exhibitions at MOPA. The “Seeing is Believing?” exhibit, viewers explore the origins of photography and its impact on how we view the world around us and ourselves.

In this exhibit, you can also try out three types of 3-D viewers in the interactive 3-D photography section. This new component in “Seeing Is Believing?” takes you through the history of 3-D photography for an immersive experience that shows how we see in three dimensions. From historic stereo cameras to your smartphone, look for the Anaglyphic Shadows box and make your own 3-D photograph to take home.

Stop by and take a look around at the Museum of Photographic Arts, and appreciate the photos of yesteryear. You’ll learn so much about the history of the art form and discover how we became a society of Instagram photographers.

Lauren lives in OB with her French bulldog, Elvis Presley. She loves laughter and the great outdoors. You can contact her at [email protected].

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