SJMA 2020 Gala + Auction

The San José Museum of Art is the premier modern and contemporary art museum in Silicon Valley. The Museum was founded in 1969 by a small group of San José artists and grassroots activists who reclaimed the city’s landmark nineteenth-century former library and post office (threatened with demolition) as a municipal art gallery. Today, as the Museum celebrates half a century of creative impact in the South Bay, it boldly envisions its next 50 years as a borderless museum, essential to creative life throughout the diverse communities of San José and Silicon Valley.

SJMA’s unique artistic program showcases the work of significant internationally acclaimed and emerging artists whose creative interests and distinctive approaches to contemporary art resonate with defining characteristics of San José and Silicon Valley−from its rich cultural diversity to its innovative ethos. Exhibitions and programs mirror the international reach of our majority-minority community and celebrate the artist as risk-taker. SJMA’s diverse and growing permanent collection is showcased in the newly published 50x50: Stories of Visionary Artists from the Collection, a major project three years in the making and the Museum’s first digital collection catalogue. Featuring engaging new writing and photographic and multimedia digital assets on fifty artists in the permanent collection, this free resource is dramatically expanding online content on the Museum’s holdings. In Fall 2020 the exhibition South East North West: New Works from the Collection testifies to the expanding diversity, artistic creativity, and international scope of the Museum’s holdings. SJMA is committed to presenting a minimum of 60% artists of color and women each season, with particular attention to artists who represent the diverse communities of San José and our region. In 2019—the centennial year of women’s suffrage and the Museum’s 50th anniversary—SJMA’s curators showcased a commitment to inclusive exhibition and collecting practices and honored the Museum’s female founders with an institution-wide program of work by visionary women artists.

Through its education and public programs, SJMA actively works to bring artists and their unique expertise into wider dialogue. SJMA is the largest provider of in-school arts education in Santa Clara County, serving over 45,000 students per year. With extensive classroom-residency programs focused on nurturing students’ creative mindsets, the Museum is a local leader in STEAM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Arts-Math) education. The docent-run classroom-based program, Let’s Look at Art, is close to reaching its one millionth student. During shelter-in-place, SJMA is committed to developing artistically excellent and socially relevant programming for its community and to serving the region’s diverse populations, students and teachers, and community partners throughout its work. To continue serving students, SJMA educators are converting curriculum to virtual platforms, which are accessed at the Museum Online Education: Make Art From Home.

A new access program that provides free admission for students and teachers has resulted in a 35% increase in attendance from college students, while new late-night hours on Facebook First Fridays make the Museum a go-to destination for downtown night life.

To learn more about how you can make an impact at the San José Museum of Art, contact Kristin Bertrand, director of development at or 408.772.6922.

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Neon color geometic graphic of the 2020 Gala + Auction