PRESS RELEASES   ·  May 17, 2016

Education and Exhibitions Unite for Evolving Industry

The Museum of Photographic Arts creates new Department of Visual Learning

SAN DIEGO – At a time of transition within cultural organizations, the Museum of Photographic Arts re-evaluated the roles of education and exhibitions with the creation of a new department.

The Department of Visual Learning will further MOPA’s center for visual learning, established in 2014, with the merger of two traditionally separate areas. The overall goal is to strengthen the museum’s ability to provide a more integrated and vital approach to the guest experience.

“These changes support the work we have been doing in redefining the museum’s role in response to our changing demographics as well as photography’s transformation as the most important medium of contemporary communication,” said MOPA Executive Director Deborah Klochko. “There is a new future emerging that explores the power of the medium to make change and impact society.”

Joaquin Ortiz will lead the new department as the Director of Innovation, formerly Director of Education and Innovation. In addition, independent curator and arts adviser Merry Foresta will join MOPA as its first Curator-at-Large. Foresta was the founding director of the Smithsonian Photography Initiative from 2000 to 2010 and built one of the world’s premier collections of American photography during her tenure. Her work will focus on the integration of major exhibitions, acquisitions and special projects into the new focus for visual culture at MOPA.

“As MOPA looks to the future of photography and its place in a contemporary creative world, I am so pleased to be able to contribute to MOPA’s programs,” Foresta said.

Pay What You Wish admission, a flexible monthly membership and the integration of technology are examples of the positive changes MOPA initiated recently. The former exhibitions and education departments worked collaboratively to enrich this inclusive environment at the museum from the bilingual wall text to interactive stations. Visitors may expect an enhanced experience with greater takeaways as the Department of Visual Learning furthers such initiatives. MOPA’s goal of teaching visual literacy – an ability to interpret and find meaning in images – will be more incorporated into exhibitions with prompts and hands-on activities that relate to the displayed art.

The establishment of the center for visual learning resulted in significant physical upgrades, including the addition of a 1,200 square-foot gallery, new museum store, and renovations to the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Theater. With more than 40 years devoted to lens-based media, MOPA is expanding its role to teach and encourage a passion for the photographic arts as advocates for new ideas.

“MOPA’s mission is to reach the broadest possible audience, and we live in an age where everyone has access to view and create photography and video,” Ortiz said. “This next step allows us to more deeply engage communities locally and beyond to inspire and educate them through the power of the image.”


Press Opportunities: To request high-resolution images, additional information or to schedule an interview, please contact MOPA Marketing & Communications Manager Raya Greenbaum at 619.238.7559 x203 or via email (

The Museum of Photographic Arts is a center for visual learning located in San Diego’s Balboa Park. Its mission is to “inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film and video.” As a 501(c)(3) organization, MOPA is generously supported by members, individuals, corporations, foundations and government agencies. Learn more at

MOPA is offering Pay What You Wish admission six days a week until May 29, 2016. San Diego City and County residents are free the second Tuesday of every month.




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MOPA is now MOPA@SDMA!Learn More


Welcome to the Museum of Photographic Arts at The San Diego Museum of Art!

As of July 1, 2023, the Museum of Photographic Arts and The San Diego Museum of Art have merged to become one unified institution. The Museum of Photographic Arts is now the Museum of Photographic Arts at The San Diego Museum of Art (MOPA@SDMA).

MOPA@SDMA remains a pay-what-you wish museum open Thursdays through Sundays 11:00 a.m.– 5:00 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you soon!