San Diego Museum of Art 'unlocks' vault in new exhibit

Vaults, by definition, are where valuables are stored. For the San Diego Museum of Art's Roxana Velásquez, though, it seemed silly to keep all those artistic treasures locked up and away from public view. That's why a portion of the Balboa Park museum's first-floor space is now devoted to "Visible Vaults." Continuing through Nov. 12, 2019, the groundbreaking exhibit unlocks the museum's expansive art vault and moves some 300 pieces - paintings, sculpture, ceramics, cloisonné, snuff bottles and tiles - out of the basement and into one of the main galleries. "There are so, so many barriers when it comes to museums and art, so this is about bringing out to the public the pieces that are already in our possession," said Velasquez, SDMA's executive director.  "Visible Vaults" When: Through Nov. 12, 2019 Where: San Diego Museum of Art, 1450 El Prado, Balboa Park Tickets: Free for members and children 17 and under; $8 for college students with full-time ID); $10 for military (active and retired with ID) and seniors (65 and older with ID); $15 for adults Phone: (619) 232-7931 Online: sdmart.org For decades, many of the museum's artworks have rotated in and out of exhibits. In many cases, some have never been shown to the public. The exhibit includes everything from Japanese woodblock prints from the 19th century to prints by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. "Because of the fact that a majority of the pieces are light-sensitive, they have to be inside the vault and kept from outside light exposure," Velasquez said. Now, through calculated measures to protect them, some of the museum's most treasured pieces - from Warhol and Rodin to the world-renowned Edwin Binney collection of Southeast Asian art - will literally be inches away from the public's hands, inside drawers and protected by glass. "It's about accessibility," she said of the exhibit, which opened a few months ago. "It's our duty. It's not only our mission but our duty. How do we allow the people to contemplate and enjoy the pieces that they normally cannot see?" The answer: "Visible Vaults." Twitter: @outdoorlivingsdmichael.rocha@sduniontribune.com
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