The museum was founded in 1969 by a small group of San Jose citizens who transformed the historic library building, scheduled for demolition, into a gallery focusing on modern and contemporary art.
Nine to twelve exhibitions are presented each year, from traditional painting to exploratory new‑media installations, including regional California works as well as the work of international artists. In 1991, a new wing was added to the landmark 19th-century building, making way for the growing permanent art collection.
Selections: The San Jose Museum of Art Permanent Collection presents selections of contemporary art from the Museum’s rapidly growing permanent collection, this 264-page publication features a selection of what the Museum believes to be the best regional, national, and international visual art of our time. Each spread in the book features a full-page color artwork accompanied by an in-depth essay that appeals to both the general public and scholars alike. Noteworthy among the more than 100 artists featured are: Ruth Asawa, Romare Bearden, Ruth Bernhard, Elmer Bischoff, Barbara Bloom, Joan Brown, Alexander Calder, Enrique Chagoya, Jay DeFeo, Richard Diebenkorn, Viola Frey, Andy Goldsworthy, Gronk, Edward Hopper, Richard Misrach, Nathan Oliviera, Roger Shimomura, Bill Viola, and William Wiley.