SFMoMA’s Plans for Extensive Off-Site Programming Begins

by Daniel Haim

Beginning in June 2013, SFMOMA will co-present major exhibitions at partner museums featuring works drawn either entirely or in part from SFMOMA’s holdings. Projects are still in development, but highlights include an exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum considering connections between art and spirituality; a presentation at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts that takes SFMOMA’s growing collection of South African photography as a starting point; and an exhibition at the Asian Art Museum that taps the collections of both SFMOMA and the Asian to spark intriguing dialogues about beauty in Asian and Western art.

Additional projects include a multi-location exhibition of Doug Aitken’s Empire trilogy (2008–14), which will present all three video installations simultaneously for the first time; and a commissioned outdoor pavilion showcasing work by Los Angeles–based architect Greg Lynn, which will serve as a floating venue for museum programming along San Francisco’s waterfront during the America’s Cup races in 2013. SFMOMA will also present Live Art festivals and neighborhood-based initiatives; bring touring presentations of its renowned photography collection to communities throughout California; and create new partnerships with local schools.

“SFMOMA is more than just a building,” says SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra. “We’re a set of intersecting cultural communities. As we reimagine our new home, we’re also rethinking who we want to be in the future, and what better way to find inspiration than in conversation with others. We look forward to fully exploring what it means to be a museum during this phase, while broadening access to our collection in ways that foster a sense of community ownership of the collective cultural riches of the city and celebrate the creative spirit of the region. When our new building is completed in 2016 we’ll bring the best of these ideas and experiences back into our new building with a greater understanding of our place in the community.”

SFMOMA’s list of partners is still growing as plans evolve. It currently includes the Asian Art Museum, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Contemporary Jewish Museum, Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, Exploratorium, Museum of the African Diaspora, Oakland Museum of California, UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and others to be announced later this year.

“Dialogue with the community has always been important to SFMOMA, and we’re tremendously excited to work with all our museum partners,” says SFMOMA Curator of Painting and Sculpture Janet Bishop, who is leading the museum’s off-site initiative. “Our construction period offers an opportunity to really extend that dialogue and play it out in a variety of new ways. Not only will audiences be able to see and experience the museum in a new light, but we’ll be able to see ourselves in a new light, too, and gain valuable insight from that exchange.”

SFMOMA’s decision to pursue off-site programming during construction evolved from a detailed review of the best options for the museum’s art collection, the audiences it serves, and its vision for the future. Joint programs through partnership further SFMOMA’s mission to make art not only widely accessible, but accessible in continually new and surprising ways.