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May 14, 2016
Photo by Pei Ketron

Why the New SFMOMA Matters

At long last after nearly three years of closure for construction, SFMOMA is cutting the ribbon on its spectacular 10-story, Snøhetta-designed museum expansion and the global art world is abuzz with anticipation. Why the enthusiasm? Sure it’s bigger (now the largest of its kind in the country), and a sexy new building and world-class dining destination.

As the anchor modern art museum in an adventurous city with an international reputation based on the continual thirst for reinvention, SFMOMA has always been a cultural catalyst. It’s also a model of innovation in the industry nationwide, widely admired for consistently challenging itself and visitors with art experiences both thoughtful and provocative.

Equally rooted in the museum’s outlook is a knack for working with living artists, particularly those it has collected in depth (going deep as opposed to broad is another chief hallmark). SFMOMA was the first museum on the West Coast devoted to both modern and contemporary art and it continues to champion work by younger, emerging artists alongside the 20th-century greats—all presented with a uniquely West Coast perspective.

Now all eyes in the art world are on the transformed institution as it steps onto the international stage again as it turns one to showcase an expanded collection and new attitude to match the city’s booming cultural landscape. Here are just a few reasons why they’ve got our full attention:

The Doris and Donald Fisher Collection
Changing selections of work from the Fisher family’s world-renowned holdings (think masterpieces by Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra and Andy Warhol) shown alongside the museum’s own works are joyous proof that private collections can shine within a major museum context.

The Campaign for Art
Highlights from among more than 3,000 gifts of artwork given to SFMOMA leading up to its reopening celebrate the generous community that’s making the museum a source of inspiration for generations to come, and also showcases key strengths of its collection.

The Pritzker Center for Photography
Inspired by the likes of San Francisco darlings, Ansel Adams, Lee Friedlander, Dorothea Lange and Alfred Stieglitz, the largest space dedicated to the medium of any art museum in the country, SFMOMA’s photography galleries offer more than 15,000 square feet to share its massive collection in this area, considered among the finest anywhere.

Art Commissioning Program
Furthering an artist-centric legacy, an ambitious program of commissioned artworks in the new building—starting with pieces by Claudy Jongstra and Julie Mehretu—promises to activate the spaces in unexpected ways.

New Free Entry for Visitors 18 and Under
Because free is always better! Hat’s off to SFMOMA for cultivating the next generation of art lovers and expanding its work with K-12 students in San Francisco’s school districts. Extending free access to children and teens 18 and under makes SFMOMA a more accessible experience for visiting families as well.


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