Be In the Know

Be In the Know. Sign up to have DesignDestinations delivered right to your inbox, weekly.

SFMOMA: Bringing new ways to think about the world to San Francisco

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

When I find myself in a city with some free time, my first inclination is to head to a museum. Yep, I’m a museum junkie. Love them. Love the art and exhibits. Love the architecture. Love the Museum shop. The restaurant. Love. Love. Love.

Recently in San Francisco I had a day to myself so so, of course, I took myself to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

I had been reading about this 80 year old institution because it was actually closed for three years while a WoW of an addition was completed. Reopening May 2016 , the $305 million dollar temple of art connects the old and new structures seamlessly. It now houses the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, described as “one of the greatest treasure troves of modern and contemporary art in the world.” The Fishers founded the Gap. Their donation included 1,100 pieces of work.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

A writer in San Francisco Magazine, Gary Kamiya, called the Fishers’ collection,

 “one big-assed gift.”

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The museum also includes a 15,000 square foot Pritzer Center for Photography, occupying the entire third floor. It’s the largest museum space dedicated to photography in the country. This is eaven for a Photographer Wannabe like me.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Lets talk about the building. The front doesn’t really knock you over with its understated brick work. When the taxi driver dropped me off I wasn’t sure I as in the right spot. The reason: I had been seeing photos of a huge cruise ship shaped structure and front didn’t look anything like that.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

I figured out that I had to walk around the corner to see the giant white structure, that yes, made me think of a cruise ship. The ten story structure clad in undulating panels of fiberglass-reinforced polymer is squeezed into the block with smaller buildings isn front of its lower floors. The large window at the top added to this imagery, making me think of portholes. The structural details were  interesting, providing both interior and exterior graphic shapes and lighting to enjoy.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The spaces in the museum are huge, designed to accommodate the work donated and now being collected. Multiple galleries, coffee shops, places to perch, outdoor space complete with a vertical plant wall which made me think of the Branley Museum in Paris with its fabulous plant covered exterior. The third floor terrace is a space for showcasing large sculptures opening up the museum to the city.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The restaurant, while quite expensive, has a novel theme. The items on the menu are all signature dishes of famous chefs. One might think of it as a “museum of food.”

I was particularly impressed that there are works of art on the first and second floors that are free to enjoy. This huge sculpture by Richard Serra called “Sequence” is available to all who come to the museum without paying for a ticket.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The area in S.F. where the museum is located is fun and lively. Several other museums are located there and a new one—a Mexican Museum is going up.

Mexican Museum
Mexican Museum
Reflections of the neighborhood.
Reflections of the neighborhood.
Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.

Leave a Reply