San Diego

On View: Art and Culture Exhibitions

The Library’s exhibition program allows free access to visual art and cultural exhibitions, while promoting San Diego artists and creative community groups.

Library patrons viewing an exhibition in the Central Library Art Gallery.

Central Library Art Gallery

You are Here
Feb. 10 – May 6, 2018 | San Diego Central Library Gallery

You Are Here exhibit pin

This exhibit celebrates the creative energy found within San Diego-area higher education art departments and shifts that energy off campus to the Central Public Library. Tweaking the tried-and-true model of an on-campus exhibition gives the general public easy and free access to the talents of local teaching artists and their emerging-artist students.
Works on view are as diverse as the studio art practices at the schools, created by instructors and students working in a range of mediums such as painting, mixed media, ceramics, and photography. The show includes 26 artists representing 13 schools.

Community Exhibitions

With 35 branch libraries in communities throughout the city, the San Diego Public Library has many great spaces to showcase educational, cultural, intellectual, charitable and recreational exhibits, as well as works by community art groups and individuals.

Allied Gardens/Benjamin

See Life logo

See Life
Nov.  6, 2017 - Jan. 19, 2018
Photos of ocean life, close-up and in color, on loan from the Cabrillo National Monument.

Mission Valley

Two portraits of San Diegans by José González

Credit: J. González

Faces of the Street
Jan. 3 – March 31, 2018
Portraits of San Diegans by José González show the real people behind the stigma of homelessness.

North Park

The Memory Project – Syrian Children
Feb. 13 - April 26, 2018
Based on photos, American students made these portraits and gave them to displaced children, creating new happy memories. Learn more here.

Pacific Beach

Illustration from a children’s book by local author Murray Lee

Credit: M. Mills

Elephant and the Indians
Jan. 12 – Feb. 28, 2018
Award-winning painter Mona Mills portrays the true story of a Chinese railroad worker who was captured by and lived with American Indians.  This story inspired the book by local author Murray K. Lee.  Art and author talk, Saturday Feb. 10 at 2 pm.

Point Loma/Hervey

San Diego Fellow Calligraphers

Credit: B. Brice

San Diego Fellow Calligraphers
Sept. 9, 2017 - Feb. 28, 2018
Celebrating SDFC’s 40th anniversary: an exhibition of original multimedia works that reflect a wide variety of styles, colors and forms, and incorporate an array of calligraphic styles.

Rancho Bernardo

Butterflies painting by Joanne Michalik

Credit: J. Michalik

Flutterings and Flowers
Jan. 5 – March 31, 2018
In her paintings, Joanne Michalik captures the startling variations of color seen on butterfly wings, combined with floral images.

Rancho Peñasquitos

"Tree of Life" by students at Innovations Academy

Credit: Innovations Academy

A Midsummer Night's Dream
Nov. 1 - Jan. 31, 2018
Inspired by Gustaf Klimt’s “Tree of Life,” students at Innovations Academy in Scripps Ranch created this backdrop for their production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.

San Carlos

Handcrafted quilt depicting birds of a feather flocking together.

SewMates Quilters: Nature and Wildlife
Jan. 8 – Feb. 1, 2018
Handcrafted quilts depicting nature scenes such as parrots in a jungle, bears in a forest, and birds of a feather flocking together. This is the 10th anniversary of this quilting group, which seeks to expand members’ skills and does philanthropic work.

Serra Mesa-Kearny Mesa

Oil painting of ocean and mountains by Brian J. Reilly

Credit: B. Reilly

International Scenes
Dec. 26, 2017 – Feb. 27, 2018
In his paintings, Brian J. Reilly combines two loves: travel and art. The paintings are done in oil with a combination of brush and pallet knife.

Bird feathers art work by Lewis Mark Grimes

Credit: L.M. Grimes

Feather Rishi
March 1 - April 29, 2018
Lewis Mark Grimes turns the molted feathers of companion birds into unique works of art. Through his work, Grimes hopes to kindle a spirit of respect and encourage the conservation of bird species. Reception Sunday March 4, 1:30 to 3:30 pm.

Skyline Hills

The Memory Project – Syrian Children
Feb. 4 - April 27, 2018
Based on photos, American students made these portraits and gave them to displaced children, creating new, happy memories. Learn more here.

University Community

The Memory Project – Syrian Children
Feb. 4 - April 27, 2018
Based on photos, American students made these portraits and gave them to displaced children, creating new, happy memories. Learn more here.

Exhibition Opportunities

SDPL is pleased to have hosted exhibitions and displays by groups such as West Coast Drawing, San Diego Mesa College Museum Studies Program, the Museum of Photographic Arts’ Education Department, the Pastel Society of San Diego, High Tech High, Veterans Art Project, San Diego Watercolor Society, the Art Glass Association of Southern California, Words Alive, and various individuals artists and craftsmen.
Exhibit Space is made available on equitable basis regardless of the beliefs or affiliations of individuals or groups requesting their use. The Library endeavors to present a broad spectrum of opinion and viewpoints. The Library does not accept responsibility for ensuring that all points of view are represented in any single exhibit.
To initiate use of Exhibit Space; Library staff must receive a completed online application from the party requesting the exhibit.

Online Application to Exhibit

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you choose what to exhibit in the library?
All potential use of Exhibit Space shall be evaluated by criteria, which may include, but are not limited to:
  • Public Safety: The exhibit must not pose hazards or threats to public safety or public health and/or must not pose a potential liability for the City of San Diego in any other way.
  • Availability of Resources: The availability of Exhibit Space and necessary Library staff support. Preference will be given to exhibits that do not require an excessive outlay of City of San Diego resources.
  • Excellence: The level of exhibit quality and conceptual content.
  • Security: The nature of the proposed security measures for the exhibit.
  • Relationship to Exhibit Space: The scale and nature of the exhibit in connection with environmental, physical, and/or functional contexts, both existing and planned.
  • Content Considerations:  Exhibit content should be appropriate in material, form and content for the library environment.  In general, the Library does not accept exhibits of a purely commercial nature, unless they have a special educational, informational, or cultural value to the community. Materials advocating a particular vote on a candidate or ballot proposition may not be exhibited.
  • Associated Programming: Exhibitors are encouraged to participate in a lecture or demonstration during the show. Evaluation will consider willingness to prepare creative associated programming. Associated programming will be arranged in consultation with the Branch Manager.
  • Priority: Organizations and individuals based in San Diego or serving primarily San Diego residents, which have not used Exhibit Space within the past year, will be given priority.
How can I exhibit at the Central Library?
Programming for the gallery at Central Library is curated and we are not accepting unsolicited applications. There are limited opportunities to display in cases throughout the library, in the Teen Center, or in the Popular Library on the ground floor. Please contact us with a letter of interest to determine if these spaces are appropriate for your needs.

Photo Gallery

  • First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, installation view; On tour from the Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC and co-hosted with The Old Globe.
  • The Art of Comic-Con, installation view, Central Library; A collaboration with Comic-Con International.
  • Intersecting lines: The Tenth Invitational Drawing Show, installation view of Underneath by May-ling Martinez.
  • Rainmaker, installation view.
  • Installation view of Art Forms in Nature at the Rancho Peñasquitos Branch LibraryArt Forms in Nature, installation view, Rancho Peñasquitos Branch Library; Nature photography by Michael Ready in conjunction with Cabrillo National Monument.
  • Installation view of METALOCI at the Mission Valley Branch LibraryMETALOCI: Points of Transformation, installation view, Mission Valley Branch Library; Exhibition conceived and organized by the Mesa College Museum Studies Program.

Contact Us

For more information about library exhibitions, email us at [email protected].
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