A Behind The Scenes Look into SBMA's Newest Exhibitions

My visit to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art has been LONG overdue. Near the end of the year, SBMA kindly reached out and invited me to spend a day in their galleries, and that's when it dawned on me: I've lived in Santa Barbara for almost four years but have never once stepped foot in their space. 

When I think of museums, I think of flawlessly curated collections, immaculate spaces and intimidating, watchful eyes of guards. Being the naturally clumsy person that I can be, I remember my younger self, trying my best to be graceful and cool as a cucumber in environments like this. I was that kid who always wanted to touch everything AND would occasionally break things as a result, leading to my rather fearful state of being surrounded by very valuable pieces. 

However, I had a totally different experience that day as I got to see SBMA in a different light. They graciously allowed me to enter a bit earlier than the scheduled preview, so I had the opportunity to get a more behind-the-scenes look at the exhibitions. It was unexpectedly exhilarating to see the galleries in a less-than-perfect state, observing workers buzzing away to add the finishing touches in time for the preview. 

I was greeted by the first exhibition below, titled as Brought to Light: Revelatory Photographs in the Santa Barbara Museum of Art Collection, which was curated to "...reveal new insights into well-known artists’ work by featuring lesser known, even unusual, images, and recently acquired works by artists entirely new to the SBMA collection that have never before been seen in the Museum’s galleries."

I was led to the next set of exhibitions via a seemingly hidden entrance (pictured below). The highlight of my visit was their 3rd exhibition called Crosscurrents: The Painted Portrait in America, Britain, and France, 1750-1850, which "...explores the dynamic dialogue that took place over the course of around a century between American, British and French portraitists from the Colonial period through the Industrial Revolution."

To commemorate the month of February, SBMA devised a brilliant promotional campaign encouraging visitors to find their Valentine amongst the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes in the painted portraits and to post a selfie with them using the hashtags, #SBMASweetheart and/or #WeMetatSBMA.

It was like the old-school, museum version of Tinder: instead of swiping left or right at mirror selfies, you wander from portrait to portrait and read each description to determine if he/she would be a good match. I'm not really into older men, so I went for this brown wavy-haired fella with a pen and paper in hand (because intelligence is sexy, am I right?! 😜). 


I also had a chance to peek into a couple of their other galleries (pictured below: Highlights of the Permanent Collection). I was particularly enthralled by the space pictured in the last photo (with the bench). I'll have to come back with friends to get a closer look. 

A big thank you to the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for giving me the pleasure to tour their newest exhibitions. I had a beautiful experience, and encourage you to make a visit with your beau. Did I mention that admission is FREE now through February 28th?! I can already imagine you guys reaching for your calendars 🙈 To plan your trip, head here for more information