Renovations at Santa Barbara Museum of Art


Following a six-year $50 million renovation project, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art will reopen to the public this Sunday.

Marking the museum’s 80th anniversary this year, the renovation of its’ original 1912 building improves SBMA’s exhibition space, making it possible to show more of the 27,000-object permanent collection, and will enhance visitor experience through improved flow through the Museum; newly created galleries dedicated to contemporary art, photography, and new media; and new LED lighting. 

The renovation addressed critical needs of the building, including seismic retrofitting; replacement of mechanical, air handling, and climate control systems; replacement of aging roofs; improved ventilation; creation of new storage and conservation areas to safeguard a growing collection; and construction of a new Art Receiving Facility and loading dock to ensure safe and efficient movement of art into and out of the building. 

Concluding the first two parts of a multi-phase master plan for the site, work to date has completed essential renovations and upgrades while expanding the scope of the Museum’s exhibitions, programs, and place as a public forum for the arts in Santa Barbara. 

“We are thrilled once again to open our historic main entrance on State Street and welcome the community into a re-envisioned SBMA,” SBMA director Larry Feinberg said. “We can’t wait to share old favorites from the collection after years in storage and to present new exhibitions and installations that will help visitors understand the collection in a new light.”

The transformation of the original 1912 structure highlights the restoration of original architectural features, including the rhythmic arches lining SBMA’s historic Ludington Court. 

This entry gallery contains limestone throughout, as does Thayer Gallery and the brand new Candace Dauphinot Grand Staircase, while other new galleries are appointed with rich oak flooring. 

Visitors will enter the State Street front doors to discover a brand-new installation conceived by SBMA chief curator Eik Kahng, as a traditional salon-style hang with large-scale European and American paintings dating from the 17th century to the early 20th century intermixed with African and Pre-Columbian antiquities, as well as the Museum’s iconic monumental Roman marbles in Ludington Court. The Lansdowne Hermes, a dramatic new focal point, will be presented on a six-foot-tall pedestal, echoing the intended elevation of the Greek original after which it was modeled. 

On Sunday August 15th, tickets to the museum are free for the community. To book your tickets in advance, click here.


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