50 Years of Creative Impact

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. The Museum’s growing permanent collection has recently surpassed 2,600 objects. Selections are highlighted in the Fall 2019 exhibition Almost Human: Digital Art from the Permanent Collection, which re-affirms a deepened institutional commitment to art and technology, and the Spring 2020 exhibition South East North West: New Works from the Collection, which exemplifies to the expanding diversity, artistic creativity, and international scope of the Museum’s holdings.

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 44,000 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.

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.