Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA | CruiseBe
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Santa Barbara Museum of Art

1130 State StreetSanta Barbara, CAUnited States
History and museums
art museum, landmark, sightseeing

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) is an art museum located at 1130 State St. in downtown Santa Barbara, California.

Founded in 1941, it is home to both permanent and special collections, the former of which includes Asian, American, and European art that spans 4,000 years from ancient to modern.



The Santa Barbara Museum of Art opened to the public on June 5, 1941, in a building that was at one time the Santa Barbara Post Office (1914–1932). Chicago architect David Adler simplified the building's façade and created the Museum's galleries, most notably Ludington Court which offers a dramatic sense of arrival for museum visitors. The newly renovated Park Wing Entrance and Luria Activities Center opened in June 2006.

Over its history the Museum has expanded with the addition of the Stanley R. McCormick Gallery in 1942 and the Sterling and Preston Morton Galleries in 1963. Significant expansions came when the Alice Keck Park Wing opened to the public in 1985 and the Jean and Austin H. Peck, Jr. Wing in 1998. The Ridley-Tree Education Center at McCormick House, a center for art education activities, was established in 1991.

Today, the Museum's 60,000 square feet include exhibition galleries, a Museum Store, Café, a 154-seat auditorium, a library containing 50,000 books and 55,000 slides, a Family Resource Center dedicated to participatory interactive programming and an 11,500-square-foot off-site facility, the Ridley-Tree Education Center at McCormick House.

Permanent Collection

SBMA's permanent collection includes more than 27,000 works of art, including paintings, sculpture, prints, drawings, photographs, ceramics, glass, jades, bronzes, lacquer and textiles. These works represent the arts of Asia, Europe and the Americas spanning over 5,000 years of human history. Particular strengths of the permanent collection include:

  • 19th-century French art (Barbizon School, Impressionism, Post-Impressionism)
  • 19th and 20th-century American art (paintings and works on paper)
  • Contemporary Regional art (20th-century and 21st-century California artists to the present)
  • Western Pacific Rim photography (contemporary Chinese, Japanese, Korean)
  • Buddhist art (Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, Indian)


SBMA presents carefully selected and focused shows of the greatest art and artists of the past, such as Degas, Leonardo, Picasso, Rothko, and Van Gogh, and of the most important, cutting-edge, and influential artists of recent years. While some exhibitions explore new aspects of well-known figures, others, with a renewed, keen sense of mission, display the works of significant, mature artists that have been overlooked or of young, emerging artists with compelling visions, both local and international.

Since the appointment of current Director, Larry Feinberg, in 2008, one way the Museum has striven to increase its international profile through the organization of major loan exhibitions. A recent example is Picasso and Braque: The Cubist Experiment, 1910-12 (2011), co-organized with the Kimbell Art Museum.

SBMA has been and also continues to be celebrated as a pioneer in the exhibition of emerging regional artists, and seeks to present contemporary art of national and international importance. Recent examples include Yinka Shonibare, MBE: A Flying Machine for Every Man, Woman and Child and Other Astonishing Works (2009), Chasing Moby-Dick: Selected Works by Tony de los Reyes (2010), and Charles Garabedian: A Retrospective (2011).


The Santa Barbara Museum of Art maintains a diverse curatorial staff, including, Assistant Director and Chief Curator Eik Kahng, Karen Sinsheimer, SBMA's Curator of Photography, and contemporary curator Julie Joyce.


SBMA's mission of integrating art into the life of the community is at the heart of over 40 education programs reaching over 40,000 people each year. Utilizing its rich repository of original works of art, the Museum constantly strives to provide effective, visual-arts education programs to the entire community: creative, innovative, aimed both at and beyond the art itself, and, above all, making a real difference in people's lives.

In the public schools, the Museum has become the primary provider of visual-arts education. The Museum's teaching staff and docents employ the visual arts to help schoolchildren build creative-thinking and analytical-thinking skills, and to understand and appreciate other cultures. The staff also trains public-school teachers how to use the visual-arts to teach across the curriculum, to teach history, mathematics, geography, the various sciences, and literature.

Believing that an ongoing relationship with art is necessary for a deeply lived life, the Museum is committed to offering engaging and stimulating visual-arts education to the adult community as well. SBMA sponsors thought-provoking and enjoyable gallery tours, performances, seminars, and series of lectures by eminent scholars. Special outreach programs have been developed for seniors, including those in retirement communities whose mobility is restricted and those suffering from Alzheimer's disease. To enhance the intellectual, creative, and social life of the whole community – as well as its cultural breadth—the Museum serves as an important gathering place and resource for all ages, ethnicities, and interests.

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