San Francisco's Asian Art Museum to undergo US$90m transformation by wHY

San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum has unveiled a US$90m (€76.6m, £67.2m) plan to transform the institution, a project supported by the largest financial gift in the museum’s history – a US$25m (€21.3m, £18.7m) donation from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang.

Los Angeles-based architecture firm wHY are behind the plans, which the museum says will create new interpretive approaches in its galleries, affirming the local relevance and global impact of Asian art.

According to the plans, a new 13,000sq ft (1,200sq m) exhibition space – to be used for special exhibitions – will be topped by an art terrace, which will serve as a sculpture garden and events space covering 7,200sq ft (668sq m). In addition to these works, other elements of the transformation include dedicated spaces for contemporary art experiences, upgrades to education classrooms and installation of new digital technologies throughout the museum.

The museum will remain open while work is carried out, though some collection galleries and public spaces will close briefly on a rotating basis. These include a complete revamp of the lobby space, with planned changes offering a direct path from the museum’s entrance to its staircase. Other galleries will also be redeveloped as part of the works.

“Encounters with the incredible diversity and rich narratives of Asian art broaden our worldview and encourage us to look and think beyond the borders of our own life experiences,” said Jay Xu, director and CEO of the Asian Art Museum.

“By situating Asian art within a global context, juxtaposing art of the past and present and introducing exciting ideas through exhibitions and programs, the transformed museum will offer visitors fresh, meaningful perspectives on the culture of the Bay Area, world history and current events.”

The investment is supported by “For All, the Campaign for the Asian Art Museum” – a five-year funding campaign which will ensure the lasting success of the museum by providing financial support for stimulating programmes as well as provisioning the endowment’s steady growth.

Akiko Yamazaki, the wife of Jerry Yang, is chairing the campaign. Including the US$25m donation from the couple, 72 donors have contributed more than US$60.5m (€51.5m, £45.2m) to the cause. The expansion project itself has been budgeted at US$38m (€32.2m, £28.4m). Remaining funding will go towards exhibition and programme development, and endowment payments.

Designed by architect George W Kelham, the museum was and originally built in 1917 as the central library for San Francisco. The beaux arts-style building underwent a US$160.5m (€136.5m, £119.9m) redevelopment by Italian architect Gae Aulenti in 2003, with the museum relocating from Golden Gate Park to its current home on Larkin Street. The museum currently boasts a collection of more than 18,000 items, though only 2,500 are currently on display at any one time.

The expansion could begin within the next six months, says the museum, which has set an opening date of Q3 2019 for the project.

wHY architects  visitor attractions  museums  Asian Art Museum  Akiko Yamazaki  Jerry Yang  galleries  San Francisco 
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San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum has unveiled a US$90m (€76.6m, £67.2m) plan to transform the institution, a project supported by the largest financial gift in the museum’s history – a US$25m (€21.3m, £18.7m) donation from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang. Los Angeles-based architecture firm wHY are behind the plans, which the museum says will create new interpretive approaches in its galleries, affirming the local relevance and global impact of Asian art.
Los Angeles-based architecture firm wHY are behind the plans / wHY/Asian Art Museum
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