The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library has earned a reputation as one of the outstanding art galleries and art collectors in San Diego. The Athenaeum's art exhibition program, begun in the 1920s, has grown tremendously in both scope and recognition, particularly in the past 20 years.
Exhibitions are presented in three gallery spaces: the Joseph Clayes III Gallery, the Rotunda Gallery, and the North Reading Room. Approximately eight exhibitions per year are presented in each gallery. Exhibitions in the Joseph Clayes III Gallery focus on nationally and internationally recognized artists. The Rotunda Gallery emphasizes community partnerships or emerging regional artists. Art in both galleries are related to the Athenaeum's other focuses, namely books or music. Works have included limited edition artists' books, drawing, painting, site-specific installations, photography, sculpture, collage, mixed media, architecture, and calligraphy.