Through its exhibitions, education, and outreach programs, the Santa Monica Museum of Art fosters diversity, innovation, and discovery in contemporary
art—local, national, and international.
Founded in 1984 by Abby Sher, the original home for Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA) was designed by internationally acclaimed architect Frank Gehry as part of a commercial-use property located on Main Street at Ocean Park—the site of the former Edgemar Farm Dairy. In 1988, Thomas Rhoads took over as executive director and the Museum’s exhibition programming began. In 1998, SMMoA moved from its original Main Street location to its current position as the center of the Bergamot Station Arts Center, the largest art gallery and cultural complex in Southern California.
In 2000, Elsa Longhauser was appointed SMMoA’s executive director. During her time at SMMoA, Longhauser has established the Santa Monica Museum of Art as an epicenter of artistic, intellectual, and cultural energy and creativity. Longhauser detects and gathers the vital voices of our time, offering a forum for innovative ideas and opening paths for new connections among artists, curators, administrators, and viewers. Many of the exhibitions Longhauser supports and organizes shed light directly on art in Los Angeles, both its rich history and its vigorous present; all reiterate the city’s—and the museum’s—importance in the ongoing international art dialogue.
The only kunsthalle, non-collecting museum, in Southern California, SMMoA presents exhibitions and programs that reveal the vibrant, untold stories and pivotal moments in the history of contemporary art and culture. To this end, SMMoA devotes its exhibition spaces—the Main Gallery and two project rooms—to presenting and advancing the work of contemporary local, national, and international artists whose work merits sustained inquiry and recognition.
SMMoA supports the art of our time through exhibitions and related programs that embrace diverse aesthetic, cultural, and ideological perspectives. It presents innovative work, by emerging and established artists; initiates and maintains artistic partnerships and collaborations; connects the visual arts to other systems of information and knowledge; and provides an opportunity for audiences to experience, understand, and enjoy contemporary visual culture.