The San Jose Museum of Art, or SJMA prides itself on its origins: In 1969, the beautiful 19th-century building that then housed a library in downtown San Jose was threatened with demolition, and a group of citizens banded together to save it and open an art gallery. That local effort grew, creating this remarkable facility, including a light-filled wing added in the 1990s.
What to See at the San Jose Museum of Art
As one of the preeminent destinations to see modern and contemporary art in the San Francisco Bay Area, SJMA’s exhibits present a varied collection, including contemporary abstracts, photography, figurative painting, sculpture, and works in new media by Bay Area artists. It’s that last category—new media, which can incorporate such methods and pursuits as computer graphics, computer animation, digital art, sound art, Internet art, robotics, and 3D printing—that the museum takes particular pride in championing, given its location in Silicon Valley, the high-tech heart of the state.
Activities, Events, and Shopping at the San Jose Museum of Art
Check the museum’s calendar for family-friendly activities and events, like outdoor salsa dancing at the Circle of Palms, First Fridays music concerts, and exhibit openings, which often feature DJs. The SJMA Store is a great place to shop for jewelry, art books, and innovative, high-design gifts (admission to the museum is not required to enter the store). If you’ve got kids, look for hands-on activities to help them get excited about art.
More Things to Do in Downtown San Jose
While you’re in the downtown district, check out The Tech Interactive, a family-friendly museum that focuses on science and innovation. On Wednesdays, South First Street is home to the Downtown San Jose Farmers’ Market, and with hundreds of options, you can make exploring all the restaurants an activity in itself. If your schedule permits, the city of San Jose has an excellent two-day self-guided walking tour of the downtown area that hits all the historic sights of this former capital of the Golden State, as well as places to kick back and relax.
Know before you go: The museum’s operating hours are weekends only, Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. First Fridays of every month offer extended hours and free admission after 6 p.m. Admission is always free for visitors under 18, college students, and teachers with a valid ID. A map of the museum is viewable here.