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Local Museum Courts National Criticism

Local Museum Courts National Criticism
Local Museum Courts National Criticism GUEST: Kathryn Kanjo, executive director, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Sitting atop its enviable perch overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Prospect Avenue, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego has undergone five renovations and expansions in its 75-plus years at that address.

It is the sixth expansion that's causing problems.

The idea was to create needed display space for the museum's extensive permanent collection and make the museum's entrance more obvious. Some of the work for the $75 million project has already begun.


But a petition signed by prominent architects and architecture critics surfaced in recent weeks which accuses the museum of making "a tremendous mistake."

It's the entryway that's causing this public gnashing of teeth.

The museum itself is not one building, but several, including a building designed in 1915 by Irving Gill for Ellen Browning Scripps. The 1996 expansion included an entryway, atrium and garden pathway designed by Venturi Scott Brown, a Philadelphia Architecture firm referred to at times in the press as "revered."

It is the only Venturi Scott Brown project in San Diego.

Museum leaders believe the entrance is obscured by large columns, which they have slated for removal. Much of the Venturi Scott Brown design will remain.


Kathryn Kanjo, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego's executive director, joins KPBS Midday Edition to talk about the planned expansion and the criticism.