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New Art Museum For San Francisco

August 8, 2007

San Francisco has been blessed with the arrival of numerous new museums in recent times, including the Museum of the African Diaspora (MOAD), the Asian Art Museum and the lavishly revamped de Young Museum. New Jewish and Mexican museums are also on their way. The latest news is that the city, like a proud mother-to-be is expecting yet another world-class venue for art.

Donald and Doris Fisher, the founders of Gap, have just announced plans to open a new contemporary art museum in the Presidio to house their formidable modern art collection. The collection, parts of which occasionally make an appearance in shows at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), includes important works by Richard Serra, Alexander Calder and Chuck Close.

The New York Times and The San Francisco Chronicle have both reported on the projected opening. If plans for "The Contemporary Art Museum of the Presidio" go ahead, the building will open its doors in 2010.

The news is wonderful for San Francisco, whose profile as a destination city for art is so frequently overshadowed by its marketablity as a place to eat good food and go for great hikes. I recently read somewhere (I thought it might have been in Theatre Bay Area Magazine or maybe the Chron, but I can't seem to find the source anymore) that city officials don't even view the arts as a priority marketing cause. They want to promote San Francisco primarily as America's greatest dining mecca. There's nothing wrong with culinary excellence. It's one of the reasons I love living here. But I think the city ignores the greater diversity of its creativity to its detriment. Perhaps the Fishers' new museum will change attitudes among the city's marketers for the better.

Wake up San Francisco. You have one of the most beautiful and strange cultural scenes on the planet. There's more to the artistic life of this city than what can be arranged on a bone china plate and served in a crystal wine glass.

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