Everything may look the same right now at San Francisco's world-famous Museum of Modern Art (known affectionately to area residents as MOMA). However, beneath a carefully curated, glossily gessoed veneer, major changes are underway.
The current plan of SF MOMA's Board of Directors is to physically expand the building starting in June of 2013, and ending (they figure) in 2016. During this time, the museum will be closed at its current location and all the art will be moved off-site. The permanent exhibits now in place will temporarily integrate themselves into traveling exhibitions, sight-specific installations, and neighborhood art festivals. To keep the works in public view, SF MOMA will partner with top local museums such as the Asian Art Museum, the Contemporary Jewish Museum, the Museum of the African Diaspora, the UC Berkeley Art Museum, and Stanford University's Cantor Arts Center, to name only a few.
The cost for this project is estimated at a gasp-inducing $555 million, of which $437 million has already been raised, according to sfmoma.org. They say the planned extension is a result of the museum's fast-increasing membership, as well as recent acquisitions that have doubled the museum's inventory and tripled its number of daily visitors over the past few years.
Needless to say, some of the world's top architectural firms commissioned hotly for this gig. The competition aimed to kill. The committee's final selection was a Norwegian firm called Sloetta, headed by Craig Dykers and Kjetil Thorsen. Sloetta has completed numerous cultural architectural projects of this size all over the world.
The SF MOMA building currently houses 225,000 square feet of public space, which includes a nearly 15,000-square-foot rooftop garden. The architectural addition will start toward the back of the building and extend all the way over to Howard Street. This will add an extra 100,000 square feet of gallery room and public space to the mix. Then (if there's any money left) the museum's directors plan to enhance and restage its existing collections and add new features to its programs.
The SF MOMA extension will hold, among other things, the Doris and Donald Fisher Exhibit, now known as one of the world's most coveted private collections of modern and contemporary art. The collection includes paintings, prints, sculptures, photos, and drawings by Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Willem DeKooning, Ellsworth Kelley, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, and many more modern masters from America and Europe. All told, the Fisher Collection contains more than 1,100 individual pieces created by 185 artists. Many of these artists are already well represented among the museum's permanent exhibits.
The planning of the extension began in 2009, when MOMA partnered with Doris and Donald Fisher, an art-loving husband and wife who founded the GAP clothing stores and became multi billionaires. They also spent 40 years collecting Western art. For a long time, Donald Fisher searched passionately for a special place to display his beloved masterpieces. At last, the perfect choice for him was SF MOMA. Donald Fisher died the day after this partnership was formed.
—By Judee Shipman
Judee Shipman authored Top50States.com, prntr.com, countless online articles, and a booked called Portable Chess Coach. She's also penned poetry and published crosswords in TV Guide.