Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Twenty-First Century San Francisco Bay Area Looks To Europe, London, And Japan For Architectural And Cultural Inspiration And Exchange

"The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have made an important agreement to share exhibitions and collections with the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

The agreement formalizes an existing relationship, as the institutions have already collaborated on major projects, most recently "International Arts and Crafts: William Morris to Frank Lloyd Wright," which closed in mid-June. The exhibition helped to draw half a million visitors to the new M.H. de Young Memorial Museum during its four-month run.

Under the new arrangement, the Fine Arts Museums and the V&A will have preferential position for sharing exhibitions they respectively organize. The V&A has agreed to take the de Young's planned 2008 show "Victorian Avant-Garde: Whistler, Godwin and the Aesthetic Movement."

The two institutions will also sample each other's collections to their mutual benefit. On this front, renovations at the V&A have put much of the museum's medieval and Renaissance holdings out of public view. The de Young hopes to draw upon them in 2007-08 for a loan exhibition of "Medieval and Renaissance Treasures."

The agreement also opens the way to collaborative efforts in education, conservation, and other less public aspects of museum practice.

Denizens of the art world might wish that the de Young had entered into this sort of reciprocal agreement with a different London institution -- the National Gallery, say, or Tate Britain -- considering the nature of their collections and exhibition records. But the V&A's deep stock of design and decorative arts, added to its global anthology of high-culture objects, gives it a family resemblance to the magpie collecting history of the de Young. The Fine Arts Museums can certainly use an Old World ally.

If only the Fine Arts Museums' advance calendar did not so strongly suggest the priority of keeping attendance at the 120,000-plus-per-month level.

Meanwhile, in Berkeley: The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive continues to inch toward reconstituting itself in an earthquake-safe structure.

The BAM/PFA recently announced five finalists among architects vying for the high-profile, ground-up commission. They are Allied Works Architecture of Portland and New York, better known by the name of their principal, Brad Cloepfil; Tadao Ando and associates of Osaka, Japan; and three firms in Tokyo: SANAA/Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa, Kengo Kuma & Associates, and Toyo Ito & Associates, Architects." ...

Kenneth Baker "De Young combines forces with the Victoria and Albert" San Francisco Chronicle July 11, 2006


The San Francisco de Young Museum, which together with the Palace of the Legion of Honor, comprises The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Casting off its gangly, long adolescence, the San Francisco Bay Area is finally taking deep looks into the cultural achievements in art and architecture in Europe, Britain, Russia, and Japan.

Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Photo credit: www.urbanachiever.com With thanks.


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