Please enable Javascript to experience full features of this website.

Current Exhibits

Scripps on Prospect: Cultural Legacy

Jacobs Gallery, MCASD - February 2, 2014 - April 6, 2014

In the early days of La Jolla the possibilities were as wide open as the land. The streets and land lots laid out by Frank Botsford in 1887 invited people to make their lives by the sea, but offered few clues as to what kind of community might take shape there. As in many places, women took the lead in establishing the cultural life of the village. Anna Held, Ellen Mills, Florence Sawyer, and others worked to create spaces devoted to art, education, and spirituality—elements seen as integral to a civilized society in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

When Ellen Browning Scripps built her first home in La Jolla in 1886 at the age of sixty, she thought she would spend her remaining years there in peace and quiet. Yet she and her sister Eliza Virginia, who had followed her to La Jolla, were soon investing in properties around town, and contributing their time and financial resources to endeavors they hoped would benefit the citizens of La Jolla.

The lasting contributions of the Scripps sisters are evidenced in the missions of La Jolla’s most important institutions, as well as in the architecturally significant buildings that house those institutions. Scripps On Prospect: Cultural Legacy explores both of these aspects of the Scripps legacy, focusing on organizations located on or along Prospect Street: St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, The La Jolla Woman’s Club, The City Recreation Center, The Bishop’s School, Scripps Memorial Hospital and Metabolic Clinic, and the two residences owned by the Scripps and their descendants, Wisteria Cottage (now the La Jolla Historical Society) and South Moulton Villa (now the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego). Scripps on Prospect: Cultural Legacy marks the second of two collaborative exhibitions organized by MCASD and La Jolla Historical Society, while the latter undergoes an ambitious restoration project.

Click images below to see larger view.


  Text coming.   Text coming.
  Text coming.    Text coming.



Scripps on Prospect:  Evolution of Villa and Cottage (completed)

Axline Court, MCASD - September 21, 2013 - January 5, 2014


Scripps on Prospect:  "Evolution of Villa and Cottage" and "Cultural Legacy" are collaborative exhibitions that examine the historical evolution of two buildings—the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego at 700 Prospect Street and the La Jolla Historical Society’s Wisteria Cottage at 780 Prospect Street.

The story of these iconic buildings serves as a mirror to that common ground, reflecting the history of the La Jolla community.

Both buildings share a long-time association with the Scripps family: South Moulton was Ellen Browning Scripps’ residence from 1896 to her death in 1932; Wisteria was purchased by her half-sister, Eliza Virginia, shortly after it was built and remained in her name until her death in 1921.

Both buildings also share an association with master architect Irving Gill. It was Gill who designed Ellen Browning’s second South Moulton residence after the first one burned in 1915, and it was Gill who remodeled Wisteria for Virginia in 1908-09.

Over time both properties changed significantly in use and appearance   Ellen Browning’s house evolved structurally, becoming an Art Center and then Museum, with new architectural designs first by Robert Mosher in 1959-60 and, then by Robert Venturi in 1996.

Wisteria passed in ownership to the Scripps-linked Revelle family and transformed functionally, becoming the privately-operated Balmer School (predecessor to La Jolla Country Day School) in the 1940s and afterwards The Nexus and John Cole’s bookstores.

Despite changes, both properties retained status as cultural and educational landmarks on Prospect linked with a common past. In the public eye one remains humble, a cottage rooted in the Craftsman vernacular architecture of the 19th century; the other turned big-sister Cinderella as an internationally respected art museum.  MCASD’s building has become an important example of postmodern architecture; LJHS’s cottage an important example of historic preservation.

Today, the future of both buildings remains bright.  The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego thrives as the region’s foremost forum devoted to the exploration and presentation of the art of our time, presenting works across all media created since 1950.  Under the stewardship of the La Jolla Historical Society, Wisteria is undergoing an ambitious restoration project that re-shapes its presence as a community center and repository of local history.  This exhibition traces the evolving shape and character of the two buildings, each with unique stories of design and function, both from a common era, yet sharing a divergent history.

Click images below to see larger view.


  Irving Gill, East Elevation of House for
Miss Ellen Scripps,700 Prospect, La-
Jolla, 1915
reproduction drawing.
  Irving Gill, Alterations in Residence for
Miss Virginia Scripps, 1907


Funding for this exhibition provided by Peter B. Clark, Robert and Pascale Bauer, Garth Conboy and Laura DuCharme Conboy, Paul, Plevin, Sullivan & Connaughton LLP, Florence Riford Community Fund at The San Diego Foundation, City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture, Members of the La Jolla Historical Society, and Members of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego