San Diego

Accessibility Tools

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

Coming Soon:
The Artist Portrait Project: San Diego Artists 2006-2016
December 15, 2018 – March 17, 2019 | San Diego Central Library Gallery

Artist Portrait Project exhibition poster

The Artist Portrait Project: San Diego Artists 2006-2016 features environmental portraiture of 50 mid-career and professional San Diego artists. In addition, a collection of artworks from Kenneth Capps, Jean Wheat, Helen Redman, Susan Osborn, Joseph Bennett, Jeanne Dunn, James Watts, Anne Mudge, Nilly Gill, Cindy Zimmerman, Robert Treat, and Polly Giacchina will be on view.

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

Animal portrait by Barbara Marker

Credit: B. Marker

Barbara Marker
Until Nov. 1, 2018
This animal portraitist shows sincere appreciation of an individual’s unique beauty through careful observations and details of pen and brush. Examples of Marker’s work as a comic-book colorist are also on view. Reception Saturday Oct. 6, from 2 - 5 p.m.

Artwork by C. Ambre

Credit: C. Ambre

Carmen and George
Oct. 1 – 31, 2018
In honor of Down’s Syndrome Awareness Month, works by young Carmen Ambre and her mentor George McDonagh are on display. Reception Friday Oct. 12, 11 a.m.

Carmel Valley

Plastic action figure

Toys and Action Figures
Oct. 1 – 31, 2018
In celebration of Halloween, library patron George Dixon displays this fun collection.

Central Library - Popular Library

Exoplanets graphic by NASA

NASA/JPL-Caltech/R. Hurt, T. Pyle (IPAC)

Coming Soon: Discover Exoplanets: The Search for Alien Worlds
Nov. 8, 2018 – Jan. 23, 2019
An interactive exhibit about the search for habitable worlds outside our solar system. Visitors can try methods that NASA scientists use to search for these worlds. Opening presentation by NASA scientist Rob Zellem at noon, Thurs. Nov. 8. From the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning in partnership with NASA’s Universe of Learning.

Central Library - I CAN! Center

Carved marble head sculpture

Credit: A. Santiago

Visionary Art of a Blind Man
Aug. 1 – Nov. 1, 2018
Artist Alfredo Santiago called his limited vision “ … an opportunity to see clearly what I never had the ability to see before.” Experience his work now showing in the I CAN Center, where patrons who have disabilities can comfortably access library services.

Mission Valley

I Eat People artwork

Coming Soon: I Eat People
Oct. 20 – Nov. 20, 2018
Monster art in many forms created by children. Organized by Stay Strange, a noise music and art collective formed in 2012.

Pacific Beach

Artwork by S. Cusey

Credit: S. Cusey

Coming Soon: L’chaim
Nov. 17, 2018 – Jan. 30, 2019
The whole is greater than the sum of the parts in L’chaim. Sarah Cusey, creator of this piece, describes it as a “living work of art, continually shifting and growing as pieces are added, then find their way into someone’s home.” Reception Saturday Nov. 17, from 2 – 4 p.m.

Point Loma/Hervey

Painting by M. Blackhall

Credit: M. Blackhall

Point Loma Artists’ Association
Until Nov. 29, 2018
This annual show of a juried arts organization features a variety of media, from traditional to experimental, both two- and three-dimensional. Reception Sept. 15, from 2:30 – 4 p.m.

Rancho Bernardo

Artworks by M. Kruck and L. Chase

Credit: M. Kruck/L. Chase

The Colorful World of Michele and Lori
Oct. 1 – Dec. 31, 2018
A multimedia exhibit of landscapes and abstracts by Michele Kruck and Lori Chase.

Rancho Penasquitos

Color pencil drawing of caterpillar

Credit: E.L. Ma

Emma Li Ma
Oct. 10 – Dec. 5, 2018
Emma celebrates her eight birthday with a retrospective of her work!

San Carlos

Fish photograph by P. York

Credit: P. York

Pamela York and Tim Mountain
Oct. 9 – Nov. 1, 2018
The beauty of the world around us, enhanced through the fine art of digital photography.

Serra Mesa-Kearny Mesa

Painting of a bird by C. Myrick

Credit: C. Myrick

Associated Fine Artists
Sept. 7 - Nov. 30, 2018
A collection of works from a small group of artists who use media ranging from oil, acrylic, watercolor and pen and ink, to encaustic and collage.

Skyline Hills

Climate artwork by J. Green, et al.

Credit: J. Green, et al.

The Art of Change
Oct. 5 - Dec. 21, 2018
Climate-inspired artwork by local children, artists, and community members, this exhibition from the Climate Science Alliance includes an interactive scavenger hunt that children can participate in to earn a free coloring book.

University Community

Pastel flower painting

Credit: E. Briggs

Coming Soon: The Art of Pastel
Oct. 22 – Dec. 29, 2018
Works by Rochelle Bradford’s students in the San Diego Community College Older Adult program. Students from Bradford’s pastel class have gone on to win top awards for their art. Reception Saturday Nov. 3 from 3 - 5 pm.

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 Library Art 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 Library METALOCI: 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].
You must have Javascript enabled to use this form.