Dedicated to "the art of our time,'' the San Jose Museum of Art (SJMA) has become the hub of arts activity in Silicon Valley. For more than 40 years, it has featured displays of modern and contemporary art and provided arts education opportunities to local students and adults alike.
The museum got its start when a group of San Jose citizens got together in 1969 and decided to save an old 19th-century library that had been threatened with demolition and transform it into an art gallery. SJMA started as a truly public museum, supported by volunteers and innumerable small donations, without the support of wealthy patrons. In 1991, a new wing was added to the landmark building, creating space for a permanent collection and international exhibitions
Today the museum is accredited by the American Association of Museums and operated by a public benefit 501(c)3 organization. It is visited by roughly 100,000 people a year, including some 25,000 school-aged children, which makes it the leading provider of arts education in Santa Clara County.
The museum's permanent collection contains more than 2,000 artworks, ranging from modern masterpieces to the recent works of aspiring young artists. Included are paintings, sculptures, installations, new media, photographs, drawings, and prints. The focus of the collection is the art of the 20th and 21st centuries, with special emphasis on West Coast art within a national context and mindful of international trends.
The museum features ever-changing exhibits on tour, themed displays from the permanent collection, in-gallery reading areas, and art-making activities. As the largest provider of arts education in Santa Clara County, the SJMA is constantly developing programs for school children, families, and adults to help them study art and the creative process. Tours, talks, and outreach into area schools are included in the process.
The museum's restaurant, Cafy Too!, has both lounge seating and al fresco sidewalk seating. Its menu includes breakfast items, sandwiches, soups, fresh salads, desserts, light snacks, and beverages. Service hours are from 8am to 3:30pm on Tuesday through Friday and 11am to 3:30pm on weekends. Free Wi-Fi Internet access is available here, too.
The SJMA Store is open daily during museum hours, offering art books, stationery, jewelry items, and a variety of artfully contemporary gifts. For children, there are art supplies, activity kits, toys, books, and puzzles available. Free gift-wrapping is provided for most items. SJMA members receive a 10% discount on all purchases here as well as in the cafy.
The museum's operating hours are from 11am to 5pm on Tuesday through Sunday. All facilities are closed on Mondays. The cost of admission is $8 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, and free for SJMA members and children aged six years and under.
Public tours of the exhibitions take place twice a day, at 1pm and 2:30pm, on Wednesday through Sunday. No reservations are needed for groups of fewer than six visitors. Free docent-led gallery tours using an iPod Touch are also offered, as is participation in art-making activities. Complimentary use of paper, pencils, clipboards, wheelchairs and strollers is available through the SJMA Admission Desk.
The San Jose Museum of Art is located downtown at 110 South Market Street, San Jose, California 95113. With a purchase in the Museum Store or Cafy, free validated parking is available for up to 40 minutes on weekdays, and on weekends and evenings, free parking is offered at locations displaying "Park Free'' signs.