Inspire, Educate & Engage

The broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection & preservation of

Photography, Film & Video

The mission of the Museum of Photographic Arts in San Diego is to inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film and video.

MOPA is one of only three museums in the nation dedicated solely to lens-based medium. Located in historic Balboa Park in the heart of San Diego, we offer an annual calendar of relevant, thought-provoking and engaging exhibitions, film festivals and lifespan-learning opportunities.


Audience and Communities-Minded

  • We seek like-minded collaborative partners with mutual added value.
  • We work to anticipate the needs of our audience.
  • We are mindful, respectful and welcoming of all constituents.

Forward Thinking

  • We embrace change.
  • We are eager to excel in the changing museum landscape.
  • We strive to lead in the cultural arts environment.


  • We create meaningful experiences to generate ongoing financial longevity.
  • We are conscientious of our real and virtual environment and resources.
  • We maintain a professional environment that encourages a loyal workforce.


History and Mission

The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) is a vibrant center for visual learning, dedicated to sharing and exploring the universal language of photography. With the mission to inspire, educate, and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film, and video, MOPA serves over 100,000 visitors annually.

Born of a group of local photographers and art patrons, plans for an actual organization began in 1972 with the creation of the Center for Photographic Arts. This entity essentially operated as a museum without walls for nine years, until the City of San Diego donated a space for a permanent location in the historic Balboa Park Cultural Complex. Accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, MOPA officially opened to the public in May 1983 and through the decades has gained an impressive international reputation for high-quality exhibitions and programs.

MOPA is one of only three independent stand-alone museums exclusively dedicated to photography and film in the nation, with its permanent collection encompassing the entire history of photography spanning contemporary works and photojournalism, in addition to materials and documents related to the history and processes of the medium. It holds more than 9,000 photographs and historical objects by 850 artists as well as over 22,000 items held within the Edmund L. and Nancy K. Dubois Library.

Support MOPA

Our sponsors receive exclusive invitations to VIP events with artists, curators, and filmmakers

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Become a MOPA member

Enjoy free admission, exclusive discounts, members-only programs & events and much more

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Masks not required for fully vaccinated guests