san francisco: sfmoma reopening

© henrik kam

following an expansion of its premises that forced it to close for three consecutive years, sfmoma will reopen on sat – may 14 as the largest contemporary arts venue stateside. the museum's original building, designed by swiss architect mario botta and opened two decades ago, has been given a new extension that helped redefine san francisco's downtown skyline along the way. the new sttructure, by leading oslo-based architecture practice snøhetta, features no less than ten floors, and as such it towers majestically over the older red brick building, defying even taller buildings nearby.

the striking eastern façade, slightly terraced and marked by irregular ridges that mimic the waters of san francisco bay, comprises of uniquely shaped frp panels. interestingly, silicate crystals embedded in the surfaces of the panels, catching the changing light and cause the façade to change appearance throughout the day. the new extension has an opposite open character, engaging with the urban surrounds by offering new routes of public circulation throughout the neighborhood and into the venue. the latter is particularly evident through the howard street gallery, a new and inviting ground floor space that's home to richard serra's colossal sequence sculpture and other artworks, and accessible free of charge. 

next to stellar new exhibition spaces, highlights of the new building include the lofty main foyer on the second floor, and it's here where all visitors services, orientation and ticketing can be found. also on the premises is the so-called white box space, a gallery, education, performance, and event space with a flexible ceilin, and movable podia and seating. up on the third floor an expansive vertical sculpture garden is situated, and it's quite a horticultural novelty, featuring over 16,000 plants. with the new wing's additional 225,000 sq.ft. [20,903 sqm.], sfmoma's exhibition space has more than doubled in size. no worries, all this ample space will be fully utilized as the museum has acquired or been donated heaps of new works.

in the latter category falls the sizeable fisher collection of gap founders don and doris fisher, and one of the planet's the world’s greatest private collections of contemporary art. since the mid-1970s the couple started to collect art to adorn their company's san francisco headquarters, and over time they amassed a variety of exemplary works by some of the greatest artists, including andy warhol, elsworth kelly, sol lewitt and anselm kiefer. spanning more than three floors of sfmoma, the initial installation of this collection presents a specific focus on american abstraction, american pop, figurative, and minimal art after 1960, in addition to german art after 1960. location: 151 third street [soma].

© henrik kam + iwan baan