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India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont


The transformed and expanded San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is purpose-built to showcase the museum’s celebrated collection, and seamlessly integrates a 10-story expansion with the original Mario Botta–designed building. With nearly three times more gallery space than before, the museum is opening with 19 special exhibitions, including a curated selection of 260 postwar and contemporary works from the distinguished Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, the first presentation of more than 600 works promised through the museum’s Campaign for Art, cherished favorites from SFMOMA’s permanent collection and works specially commissioned for the new museum. The expansion includes 170,000 square feet of new and renovated indoor and outdoor galleries tailored to the collection, enabling SFMOMA to display more of its outstanding holdings of modern and contemporary artworks.

The new building enables SFMOMA to be more welcoming and better connected to the city than ever before, with free public access to nearly 45,000 square feet of ground-floor galleries, as well as a permanent commitment to free admission for all visitors 18 and younger.

“We are so excited to open the doors and welcome the public to the new SFMOMA. We have an incredible new building, an expanded collection with thousands of new works of the highest quality, and a staff that is proud to share what they’ve been working on for the past three years. This is your SFMOMA and we can’t wait to share it with you,” said Neal Benezra, the Helen and Charles Schwab Director of SFMOMA.

Collection and Inaugural Exhibitions

SFMOMA is one of the foremost museums of modern and contemporary art, with an exemplary collection of more than 33,000 works of architecture and design, media arts, painting, photography and sculpture, as well as a groundbreaking 100-year partnership to show the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, one of the world’s greatest private collections of postwar and contemporary art. Among the 260 selections on view from the Fisher Collection at the opening are important works of American abstraction, Pop, Minimal and figurative art by artists such as Chuck Close, Ellsworth Kelly, Lee Krasner, Roy Lichtenstein, Agnes Martin and Andy Warhol; works of German art after the 1960s by such artists as Sigmar Polke and Gerhard Richter; a broad range of Alexander Calder works from the late 1920s to the late 1960s; and sculpture by leading British artists including Tony Cragg, Richard Deacon, Barbara Hepworth and Richard Long.

Supported by a strong community of collectors, SFMOMA also has received more than 3,000 promised and outright gifts of artworks from 230 donors through the Campaign for Art. The inaugural exhibitions highlight the range and quality of 600 of these newly committed and acquired modern and contemporary works, including special installations focused on photography, contemporary art and drawing.

Photography has long been a cornerstone of SFMOMA, and the new Pritzker Center for Photography, made possible by the Lisa and John Pritzker Family Fund, offers the largest exhibition, interpretation and study space dedicated to photography in any art museum in the United States. The inaugural exhibition in the Pritzker Center’s permanent collection galleries includes works drawn from the museum’s collection illustrating photography’s complex and ever-changing relationship with time by artists such as Dawoud Bey, Julia Margaret Cameron, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Phil Chang.

SFMOMA’s vibrant commissioning program is being inaugurated in the new museum with a site specific textile mural by Dutch designer Claudy Jongstra. New galleries dedicated to the art and artists of California underscore SFMOMA’s commitment to artists of the Bay Area and beyond, including David Ireland, Lynn Hershman Leeson and Wayne Thiebaud, in addition to artworks by California artists integrated throughout the museum. Architecture and design exhibitions on view at opening explore the lineage of graphic design, as well as the process behind Snøhetta’s design for the new SFMOMA. A thematic media arts presentation centering on the notion of place presents works by five artists, including a surveillance-based installation by artist Julia Scher that has been conceived and adapted for each of SFMOMA’s sites using evolving technologies from 1993 to 2016.

In addition, the first of a series of installations focused on selections from SFMOMA’s permanent collection provides fresh perspectives on cherished works, such as Henri Matisse’s Femme au chapeau (Woman with a Hat) (1905) and Mark Rothko’s No.14, 1960 (1960), among others.

A Transformed Home for SFMOMA

Connections to the surrounding neighborhood and city were carefully considered, along with bringing the benefits of landscape and the outdoors to the museum spaces.

The iconic eastern façade of the Snøhetta-designed expansion, inspired in part by the waters and fog of the San Francisco Bay, is comprised of more than 700 uniquely shaped and locally fabricated FRP (fiberglass reinforced polymer) panels. Throughout the day, the movement of light and shadow naturally animates the rippled surface. Silicate crystals from Monterey County embedded in the surface catch and reflect the changing light.

All of the senses will be engaged as part of the experience. Wonderful day lit staircases lead visitors rom floor to floor, the galleries create a comfortable viewing experience of the art, and terraces allow for moments of repose, to be reinvigorated by fresh air, sunlight and vistas of the city between galleries.

Visitors are welcomed to the new museum by two main entrances, leading to ground floor exhibition spaces that are free to all. The entrance on Third Street welcomes visitors to the reimagined Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Atrium, where the iconic oculus floods the space with natural light. Alexander Calder’s 27-foot-wide mobile, Untitled (1963), is suspended beneath the oculus, drawing the eye upwards, and a new sculptural stair leads visitors to Helen and Charles Schwab Hall, the main gathering space on the second floor.

On Howard Street, a new museum entrance adjacent to the glass-walled Roberts Family Gallery, allows visitors to enter the museum through Schwab Hall. Now presenting Richard Serra’s monumental sculpture Sequence (2006), the Roberts Family Gallery is a vibrant space visible to passersby, creating a visual connection between the city and the museum and showcasing SFMOMA’s community-focused mission. Inside, a set of maple-faced Roman steps provides an informal public gathering spot and seating area.

From both entrances, stairs lead visitors to Schwab Hall, the hub of the new museum. Visitors can enjoy a rotating installation of artworks, such as Sol LeWitt’s joyful Wall Drawing 895: Loopy Doopy (white and blue) (1999), or obtain admission to explore the rest of the museum. From here, a maple clad stair leads upward to the third-floor Pritzker Center for Photography and the galleries above.

The new galleries in the Snøhetta-designed expansion are intimate in scale and create ideal conditions for viewing the artworks. Diverse gallery spaces support the display of specific collections and works of various scales. Minimal, flexible, column-free galleries permit countless temporary wall layouts—a blank canvas for the curators.

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Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...