San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum has unveiled plans for a $38 million renovation and addition project that will transform the institution’s exhibition and educational programs while reconnecting the building to its Civic Center location. Designed by architect Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY, the project consists of a new 13,000-square-foot exhibition Pavilion and Art Terrace clad in a rusticated gray terracotta facade that echoes the design language of the original beaux arts building.
The new Akiko Yamazaki & Jerry Yang Pavilion will offer 8,500 square feet of continuous gallery space that will allow for flexible exhibition designs, including industry-standard specifications for the display of large-scale works. On the roof, the 7,200-square-foot Art Terrace will house contemporary sculpture and museum-commissioned pieces that will interact with a series of live performances and other events.
“The goal of the transformation is to tell the vital story of Asian art, from prehistory to the present, as an evolving, globally relevant tradition,” says Jay Xu, director and CEO of the Asian Art Museum. “Museum visitors will discover fresh connections between Asian art and the world around them, engaging with the topics and issues that inspire artists working today.”
Other elements of the project include new contemporary art galleries, an exhibition redesign for the display of the collection’s masterpieces, and a new education center, as well as upgraded digital technologies throughout the building including tablets, projections, photo murals and other didactic materials.
"This project has critical potential for culture in our time,” design architect Kulapat Yantrasast says of the Asian Art Museum expansion. “As an immigrant who came to America 12 years ago after living in many Asian cities, I absolutely believe in the power of culture to connect people.”
"By respecting yet enhancing the unique character of the historic building, I envision a completely transformed experience of the Asian Art Museum, even before people set foot in the galleries,” Yantrasast says. “We want to release the power of art objects to inspire visitors, but also deepen and widen those artful encounters into understanding and empathy."
Fundraising for the project is led by Akiko Yamazaki, chair of the museum’s dual governing boards, the Asian Art Commission and the Asian Art Museum Foundation. She and her husband, former CEO and co-founder of Yahoo! Jerry Yang, have pledged a gift of $25 million to the campaign. So far, more than $60.5 million have been raised of the $90 million goal, which will cover construction, programming and endowment.
The Pavilion is scheduled to be completed by summer 2019. Read more about the project, here.
Update 10/3/17: A previous version of this article listed the project costs as $90 million – of the total $90 million fundraising goal, $38 million will go toward construction.