Local business and civic leader, Appleton S. Bridges (1849–1929), offered to fund the construction of a permanent structure to house a municipal art collection. A prominent site on the north side of Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama was secured and construction got underway in April 1924. The Fine Arts Society subsequently formed in 1925 from the merger of the San Diego Art Guild and the Friends of Art to operate the new museum. Bridges hired one of San Diego’s leading architects at the time, William Templeton Johnson (1877–1950), to design and construct the new art gallery. The Spanish Colonial–style architecture from the 1915 Exposition suggested the style for Johnson’s design. Johnson and his associate, Robert W. Snyder (1874–1955), however, went one step further and looked directly to sixteenth-century Spanish Renaissance models in the plateresque style for inspiration. As construction was nearing completion in the spring of 1925, Bridges asked Johnson to help find someone to run the new gallery. At the recommendation of Archer M. Huntington, founder of the Hispanic Society of America, Dr. Reginald Poland (1893–1975), then director of education at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, was hired as the Museum’s first director.
Working Days: Thursday-Tuesday: 10 to 17, Sunday: 12 to 17