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The San Diego Museum of Art introduces public art to heart of Balboa Park
Installation view.

SAN DIEGO, CA.- The San Diego Museum of Art announced the opening of Art of the Open Air, a free exhibition located in Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama featuring seven modern works from the Museum’s internationally significant sculpture collection. Partnering with the City of San Diego, the Museum hopes to transform the Plaza, located directly in front of the Museum, through Art of the Open Air, creating an opportunity for the local community and visitors from around the world to experience the beauty and complexity of these sculptures. This public art project is open to all, free of charge, beginning Thursday, February 11, 2016.

These monumental works of art, including Auguste Rodin’s The Prodigal Son, Joan Miró’s Solar Bird, Lynn Chadwick’s The Watchers and Tony Rosenthal’s Odyssey III, are often in storage due to limited exhibition space and conservation needs. Many works were recently restored and will be reinstated for the public to view with the help of donations from Museum members and the local community.

The sculptures featured in the Plaza de Panama are in addition to the significant sculpture collection in the May S. Marcy Sculpture Garden and Panama 66 restaurant, both located adjacent to the Museum. A work by Alexander Calder will also be joining the Sculpture Garden, alongside the 19th- and 20th-century modern and contemporary sculptures by Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, George Rickey and more. In total, fifteen sculptures from the Museum’s collection will be on view as part of Art of the Open Air. Each piece has been carefully positioned to relate to its setting, whether the historic museum façade, the mid-century architecture of the library and sculpture court, or the garden with vistas to the park, to allow viewers to appreciate the art engaging with the environment.

“Art of the Open Air is a collaborative project designed to make art more accessible to our community and visitors while turning the spacious Plaza de Panama into a source of creative inspiration,” said Anita Feldman, Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs and Education. “These sculptures are some of the most significant works from the Museum’s sculpture collection, many of which have not been viewed by the public in years. We’re thrilled to bring them back on display, where they belong, and hope visitors will enjoy a new experience with every visit to the Plaza.”

In October, The San Diego Museum of Art launched a crowd-sourced fundraising campaign, #FreeTheArt, to help raise funds for the exhibition. With a generous lead grant of $20,000 from Board of Trustees member Buzz Kinnaird and his wife, Helen, as well as an ongoing major gift fundraising campaign, the Museum has already exceeded half of its goal, with $250,000 in contributions. Money raised is funding conservation, installation, security and lighting for the sculptures.

“I am delighted that our team has been able to manifest this extraordinary open-air exhibition, allowing visitors to interact with some of the greatest sculptures in our collection while creating a new, public space for art within Balboa Park,” said Roxana Velásquez, Maruja Baldwin Executive Director. “Making art more accessible for our community has been an important, ongoing objective of The San Diego Museum of Art, and we hope to continue working on more public art projects like Art of the Open Air in the future.”

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