San Diego Art Institute announces reopening plans

The San Diego Art Institute's board of directors has announced a 60-day "reset."
The San Diego Art Institute’s board of directors had announced in August a 60-day “reset” as it examined how to best handle reopening once the health guidelines allow for museums to resume operations. It now says it plans to reopen by the end of the year.
(Photo by Tim Hardy / Courtesy of San Diego Art Institute)

Board chair Karen Gilbert said in a statement: ‘The board has developed a productive and financially sound plan to reopen the gallery with approved safety measures in place.’


The San Diego Art Institute, which in mid-August announced a 60-day reset, has unveiled plans to reopen by the end of the year.

The institute in the summer joined several Balboa Park museums in announcing plans to officially shutter due to the coronavirus pandemic, with the San Diego Art Institute indicating it was taking the two-month closure to determine “how to best move forward to ensure the safety of the visiting public.”

At the time, its board of directors also announced it had not renewed the contract of its executive director, Jacqueline Silverman, which expired Aug. 3.

The institute said its board would meet virtually for two months “to chart a course for the future and plan for a strong and vibrant reopening.”

This week, a statement released by the organization said: “Following a two-month reassessment of its mission, operations and structure, the board of directors of the San Diego Art Institute (SDAI) has announced that it is financially and operationally ready to reopen its gallery space in Balboa Park before the end of the year.”

Karen Gilbert, chair of the institute’s board of directors, said: “The board has developed a productive and financially sound plan to reopen the gallery with approved safety measures in place.”

She continued: “We are fully invested in our mission to advance regional contemporary art and artists while fostering cultural equity. Our two-month ‘reset’ has been very instructive and productive. We’ve come out of this period of self-examination stronger and more financially resilient.”

As part of its reopening plans, the institute “has upgraded its HVAC system, in coordination with the remodel of the adjacent Mingei Museum,” Gilbert said.

She also said that Sarah Trujillo-Porter, formerly the institute’s deputy director, “has been retained as operations manager to guide the reopening and administer SDAI’s online programming.”

Its most recent exhibition, “Illumination,” opened in February but closed a few weeks later due to the pandemic. It is now expected that the show will be available for viewing once the institute implements its safe reopening protocols.

The San Diego Art Institute has been physically closed since public health orders called for the closure of museums in the spring.

Its largest fundraiser — the C-Note Pop-Up Art Sale, normally held in November — has been moved to early 2021.

“We’re hoping that C-Note, a juried exhibition of original works by emerging regional artists priced at $100, $200 and $300, will be an in-person event with appropriate health and safety protocols,” Gilbert said, “but we are planning for every possibility, including hosting a hybrid event with in-person and online participation.”

The San Diego Art Institute was founded in 1941 as the San Diego Business Men’s Art Club. Nine years later, its name was changed to the San Diego Art Institute, with women admitted for membership in 1953. It officially became a nonprofit in 1963.

— Michael James Rocha is a reporter for The San Diego Union-Tribune