home > general information:

Museum Renovation Project

As the Santa Barbara Museum of Art (SBMA) reaches a milestone anniversary of 75 years in 2016, our primary goal remains to preserve and protect great works of art that will inspire current and future generations to come. To fulfill this mandate and continue to provide innovative art education programs for children and adults, we face some urgent needs.

When SBMA was established in 1941, its initial home was the city's former Post Office, which was constructed in 1912. This means that some of our gallery space occupies a structure that is more than 100 years old.

The Museum's Renovation Plan not only addresses immediate needs of the facility, it also takes advantage of a rare opportunity to more effectively and efficiently preserve and protect works of art that are under our care, enhance the visitor experience, and help the Museum more fully connect to our community's cultural core.

Please excuse the inconvenience of some gallery closures as we prepare for exciting changes at SBMA!
We are dedicated to remaining open during this entire process, so are offering the following reduced admission:

May 5 – July 3, 2015: Free

The critical needs of the facility that must be addressed due to the age of the building are:
  • Roofing and building improvements
  • Seismic reinforcement
  • Systems upgrades, including HVAC improvements, to better preserve and protect artwork
  • Refined safety and security of art storage and conservation areas
  • Enhanced accessibility and code compliance


Addressing these critical areas also affords us the opportunity to make essential improvements for the safe handling of precious works of art and for an enhanced visitor experience overall in the following ways:
  • Efficiency and security of art delivery, movement, and storage
  • Improved wayfinding, layout, and access to galleries
  • Improvements to Museum amenities, including the Mary Craig Auditorium, event room, Museum Café, and Museum Shop

Key points:
  • This project will be implemented in a multi-phased approach, ensuring that the Museum will stay OPEN during construction with minimal impact on visitors and staff. This also ensures prudent fiscal responsibility at every stage of the project.
  • The majority of the construction will take place within the existing building with careful thought to minimize impact on area institutions and businesses.
  • This project has been undertaken through civic collaboration with the Santa Barbara Public Library, and the County and City of Santa Barbara. The Museum hopes to benefit the community through improvements to the pedestrian paseos, plaza, and park area adjacent to SBMA and the Public Library.
  • Improvements to the building and surrounding area will conform to LEED standards, potentially making SBMA one of the "greenest" and environmentally-sustainable museums in the country


  • This project is currently in the review and planning stages.
  • It is projected that the first phases of the project will begin in the first quarter of 2015.
  • The anticipated project is projected to take approximately 6-10 years to complete.


This page will be updated as more information is available.
Contact: Katrina Carl
  Public Relations Manager
Image top center: Claude Monet, Villas in Bordighera, 1884. Oil on canvas. SBMA, Bequest of Katharine Dexter McCormick in memory of her husband, Stanley McCormick.
Copyright © 2019 Santa Barbara Museum of Art. No images or information may be reproduced,transmitted or copied without permission.