Ambitious SFMOMA expansion on schedule 

click to enlarge San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
  • A rendering of San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s new building shows the Howard Street entrance to a glass-walled gallery the on ground level, which will have free public access.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s expansion is right on track.

“It’s been quite a year. It’s astonishing how our project has taken hold of The City,” said SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra at a news briefing at SPUR offices Tuesday, speaking about a year after the museum shuttered its Third Street building to accommodate the $305 million, 235,000-square-foot addition and renovation.

The museum also has reached 94 percent of its fundraising goal of $610 million, a figure that also includes $60 million for long-range planning and interim program administration, as well as a $245 million endowment to sustain operations.

Describing the project’s progress so far, Craig Dykers, principal and architect from Snohetta, said the structure “has been sprouting wings.” With two 500-ton cranes and as many as 150 workers on site, the back half of the building has been removed and 95,000 cubic feet of concrete now comprise the foundation. Some 75 subcontractors are working on everything from demolition to acoustic engineering.

The building’s frame is scheduled to be at its full height by late summer, a “big milestone” that will be celebrated with a Sept. 10 “topping off” ceremony, Dykers said.

Although no official date has been set, Benezra estimated the museum would reopen sometime in the first quarter of 2016.

Janet Bishop, SFMOMA curator of painting and sculpture, said the building’s closure has allowed the museum to “extend its role beyond its walls” and given staff and collaborators the opportunity to take “a fresh look at the collection.”

In 2014 and 2015, the museum’s partners have included (or will include) the Asian Art Museum, Cantor Arts Center, Oakland Museum of California, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Legion of Honor, Museum of the African Diaspora and Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts at the California College of Art. The museum also is lending works and presenting traveling exhibits across the region, state, nation and world.

In attempts to fulfill its goal of engaging as many people as possible and providing cultural and civic leadership, Benezra said SFMOMA’s new building — which is being planned to accommodate 1.2 million visitors annually — will have particularly fluid spaces and free entry on the ground level, as well as free admission for everyone under 18.

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Leslie Katz

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