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This Happened at MOPA: 1983 Push Pin Party

With its move into a permanent home in Balboa Park in 1983, the ten year old Center of Photographic Arts was renamed the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA).  From that first Push Pin Party in 1983, the Museum of Photographic Arts has grown in so many ways.  

One of the stated objectives of this new museum was to, “Assemble an outstanding collection of film, video and still photography—a repository of our cultural heritage….” A plan was in place to create “an active museum, a participatory museum, alive with programs…” and collections were an important part of this new institution.

Today the collection holds over 9000 images by 850 artists, 22,000 books and related materials highlighting photographic processes, art objects, and other artistic and historical material relevant to the medium.

MOPA believes that sharing the work and the stories that each provide is a vital part of the nature of collecting.  By seeing the art and not just storing it, learning about the maker along with their influences and motivations, a deeper understanding will be experienced. It was Aristotle who wrote, “Educating the mind without educating the heart is no education at all.”  The heart of MOPA today is making learning visual and sharing the power of photography in all of its facets.

As special thanks to Larry Urruita and his board who envisioned what a museum of photograph could be and to Arthur Ollman and his board who initiated the collection and led the museum forward.

Recognize anyone you know? Please contact us to provide your input at:

Images courtesy of David Covey.


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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!