History

In 1969—during an era of peace, love, and tie-dye culture—a small group of San Jose citizens gathered together to transform the beautiful old library (threatened with demolition) into a fledgling art gallery. The democratic, grassroots spirit of this community movement has forever shaped the character of the San Jose Museum of Art, which remains dedicated to inclusivity, new thinking, and visionary ideals. In contrast to older museums often founded upon the riches of a few patrons, the soul of the SJMA reflects the hard work and civic pride of multitudes of supporters and volunteers over the years—of its public.

From the days of flower power to the dawn of the digital world, SJMA has continued to evolve with the times. In 1991, a handsome new wing was added to the landmark 19th-century building, making way for a growing permanent art collection, impressive international exhibitions, and an ambitious mission that bridges tradition and innovation. SJMA offers experiences that delight and engage visitors of all ages and backgrounds. Here, art nurtures life: it is a vision that connects minds and hearts.