SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- The de Young Museum will reopen in Golden Gate Park on October 15, 2005 in a new landmark building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron. With a groundbreaking design that dramatically integrates art, architecture and nature, the new building presents the de Young's diverse collections--encompassing American painting and decorative arts, and arts of the Americas, the Pacific Islands, and Africa--in specially-designed galleries that allow visitors to experience both the interconnectedness and uniqueness of the art of different cultures and eras under one roof.
Founded in 1895, the de Young Museum has been an integral part of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park for over 100 years. Suffering irreparable damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the old de Young building closed in 2000 to make way for a new, seismically stable home for the city's treasured art collections. Designed to complement its natural surroundings, the new de Young will encourage museum visitors and park-goers alike to travel seamlessly from the park’s pathways to the museum’s entryways, sculpture and children’s gardens. With 105,000 square feet of education and gallery space, the new de Young’s design offers double the exhibition space of the old building and allows access to a full third of the museum free of charge. The project campaign, led by President of the Board of Trustees Dede Wilsey, exceeded its original goal of $165 million and has to date reached $175 million, making the new de Young the largest privately-funded cultural gift ever made to the city of San Francisco.
The de Young’s primary designers, Herzog & de Meuron, are collaborating with the principal architects of the building, San Francisco-based Fong & Chan Architects. The landscape design, by Bay Area-based landscape architect Walter Hood, expands the institution’s programming beyond its walls by further integrating the museum and its gardens within the setting of Golden Gate Park. The de Young and its sister museum, the Legion of Honor, together comprise the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco--the largest public arts institution in the city of San Francisco and one of the largest art museums in the United States.
"The new de Young is the culmination of a multi-year effort on the part of the Board of Trustees and thousands of generous supporters in the Bay Area and beyond, who have effectively secured a vital future for one of San Francisco’s most treasured cultural resources," said Harry S. Parker III, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. "This remarkably innovative and thoughtful building will showcase the de Young’s unparalleled collections of world art and serve as a gateway to these cultures for generations of museum visitors."
The Design for the de Young
The new, three-level, 293,000 square-foot building reduces the de Young’s footprint by 37%, and returns nearly two acres of open space to Golden Gate Park. The building is intersected by a series of courtyards that draw visitors and the landscape into the building’s interior. The exterior is encircled by ribbons of windows that both reflect the landscape and allow park visitors glimpses of the art within the museum, while simultaneously providing visitors with panoramic views of the park.
The museum’s unique and dramatic copper façade is embossed and perforated with a pattern representing the impression made by dappled light filtering through leaves in a tree canopy, creating an abstract pattern on the face of the museum that resonates with the de Young’s wooded park setting. The building’s copper skin will progressively fade from a bright copper to a cinnamon color and eventually assume a rich green patina that will blend gracefully with the surrounding natural environment.
To showcase the diversity of the de Young’s collections, Herzog & de Meuron have designed galleries that complement the different facets of the collections, consciously striving to create an atmosphere that equally represents the museum’s diverse collections of world art. Galleries designed to showcase objects from the Americas, Africa, and the Pacific express the grandeur of the collections by exhibiting them in free, open spaces and allowing objects to be viewed in three dimensions; while the collections of American paintings, sculptures and furniture of the 17th through the 19th centuries will be on view in classically proportioned rooms; and contemporary art will be housed in open, expansive galleries that utilize natural light. In addition to the exhibition spaces, the new building also provides state-of-the-art storage and conservation facilities.
The Nancy B. and Jake L. Hamon Education Tower, one of the largest spaces in an American art museum devoted exclusively to education, is located on the west side of the building and gently twists to form a parallelogram as it rises to its height of 144 feet, aligning at the top with the grid formed by the streets of the neighborhoods surrounding Golden Gate Park. Considered a national leader, the de Young’s Education Department has grown in recent years through such initiatives as their award-winning Museum Ambassador Program for Bay Area high school students, and the Artist Studio with workshops and demonstrations by Bay Area artists. With the reopening of the de Young, the Education Department will present Collection Icons, a series of multimedia installations to introduce children and first-time museum visitors to important works of art in the museum, and Get Smart with Art, a series of nine new curriculum guides and online activities designed to address the California state-mandated standards for social science and language arts.
Highlights of the de Young's landscape design, created by Bay Area landscape architect Walter Hood, include a public sculpture garden and terrace, and a children’s garden. The exterior environment is specifically designed to create a tangible link between the museum building and the surrounding park. Using iconic elements from the old de Young, the landscape architecture incorporates the original sphinx sculptures, the Pool of Enchantment, and the historic 100 year-old palm trees. Sandstone, redwood, cypress, eucalyptus, ferns and other native and non-native plants will be planted both inside and outside of the museum, echoing the vibrant cultures showcased throughout the museum’s collections and creating a sense that the park and museum flow into one another.
Permanent Collection and Special Exhibitions
The de Young’s permanent collection comprises American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, art from the native cultures of North, Central, and South America, art from the Pacific Islands and Africa, and textiles of many eras from throughout the world. Featuring work from nearly thirty countries, the de Young's broad collections are especially noteworthy for pre-Columbian art, art from sub-Saharan Africa, Maori sculptures from New Zealand, and an encyclopedic collection of New Guinean objects of exceptional quality, many of which are on loan from John and Marcia Friede. The Museum’s Rockefeller Collection of American paintings is the foremost collection of its kind in the Western United States, and includes works by John Singleton Copley, Thomas Hart Benton, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Diego Rivera, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko. The de Young also holds more than 6,000 objects of American decorative arts and sculpture, ranging from Paul Revere silver to furniture by Frank Lloyd Wright to contemporary craft from the Saxe Collection. The sculpture collection continues to grow with works by such renowned artists as Isamu Noguchi, Mark di Suvero, Claes Oldenburg, and James Turrell.