BY ALBA DE SANTIAGO
After being closed for two years for extensive renovations, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art reopens its gleaming glass and steel doors on Saturday, May 14, 2016. Nearly tripling its gallery space, the SFMOMA aims to re-establish itself as beacon of modern and contemporary art on the west coast. Majestically rising above the distinctive facade of the SFMOMA, the Snøhetta-designed expansion building is said to be inspired by the the movement of fog rolling into the bay. With its wavy silver exterior, the new expansion building not only contains thousands of feet of new gallery space, but also terraces, a sculpture garden and an enormous living wall. Visible from the street, Sequence is the first piece of art that most visitors will first see even before they step foot inside. This enormous minimalist sculpture by Richard Serra is so large, that the new expansion building had to be built around it.
The third street entrance and lobby remain largely the same, with its distinct black granite floors and massive columns. This, along with a large portion of the 2nd floor will be the open to the public. Also on the second floor is the new Koret Education Center which plans to welcome 55,000 visiting school children every year–a huge increase from previous years. The second floor galleries contain works some of the most recognizable names in modern art: Frida Khalo, Diego Rivera, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso and many more. Even if you are not an adamant admirer of modern art, you will find something interesting, touching or at least provocative.
On the third floor terrace, visitors will find the largest living wall in the United States. Measuring 150 feet wide and almost 30 feet tall, the wall features native California plants, many of which can be found right here in the bay area. The expansive terrace is a wonderful place to take a break from the closed spaces of the galleries. In fact, throughout the museum, visitors will find terraces and large picture windows to have a seat and have a moment to rest and reflection.
The third floor is also the home to the new Pritzker Center for Photography and its inaugural exhibit, California and the West. With photographs spanning over 100 years of history, settlement and urban development in California and throughout the west, the exhibit certainly adds a sense of identity and place. Interestingly enough, the SFMOMA was one if the first museums in the US to recognize photography as a form of art and as a result, boasts an enormous photography collection including works by Ansel Adams, Dorthea Lang and many more. The newly expanded third floor galleries finally gives curators a chance to display a larger part of the museum’s enormous photographic collection.
Take the stairs! As visitors move from floor to floor, they’ll find textbook examples of the far reaching and diverse mediums of the modern art movement in the US and Europe. All opening exhibitions are comprised of pieces from SFMOMA’s permanent collection, including various contributed pieces from the Campaign for Art initiative. Within these galleries, visitors will encounter American abstract paintings, post-war German art, modern British sculpture, not to mention neon art, short films, installation art and even an exhibit on the evolving fields of graphic art and typography. Don’t miss the Andy Warhol galleries or the Roy Lichtenstein pop art masterpieces. The new cafe and sun-soaked sculpture garden are also located on the the fifth floor. Of course, no visit to the SFMOMA is complete without a quick stroll across the oculus bridge, the museum’s signature architectural feature. Also, the views of Yerba Buena Gardens from this vantage point are absolutely stunning, especially at sunset.
The seventh floor galleries contain the museum’s most contemporary works, with most pieces created within the past 15 years. The art on this floor exhibits a wider variety of mediums than the floors below. That is to say, expect less paintings and more sculptures created from everyday objects, installation art, neon art and multimedia pieces. While not as large as the other floors below, these gallery spaces feel distinctly futuristic and on the forefront of great things to come.
Tickets for opening day on Saturday May 14 are sold out. However, tickets for Sunday and the rest of the year are available for purchase online. Ribbon cutting ceremony at the SFMOMA begins at will be from 8:30am to 10am. Additionally, several museums in the neighborhood will be offering free admission on May 14, including the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Museum of African Diaspora.
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