New de Young Museum opens in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park

On October 15, the de Young Museum reopened in Golden Gate Park, in a landmark new building designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre 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, under one roof, both the distinctions and the connections between the art of different cultures and eras.

Founded in 1895, the de Young museum has been an integral part of San Francisco's Golden Gate Park for over 100 years. After sustaining extensive damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the old de Young building was 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 offers twice the exhibition space of the old building, and allows access to the gardens and tower views free of charge.

The Design for the de Young

The new three-level, 293,000-square-foot building reduces the de Young's footprint by 37 percent and returns nearly two acres of open space to Golden Gate Park. The building is threaded with a series of courtyards that draw visitors and the landscape into the museum's interior. The exterior is encircled by ribbons of windows that reflect the landscape and allow park visitors glimpses of the art within the museum, while simultaneously providing museum-goers with panoramic views of the park.

The museum's unique copper facade is perforated with a design that mimics dappled light filtering through a canopy of trees, creating an abstract pattern on the face of the museum that resonates with the de Young's wooded setting. Over the course of seven to ten years, the building's skin will progressively fade from a bright copper to a cinnamon color, and eventually will assume a rich green patina that will blend with the surrounding natural environment.

Architects Herzog and de Meuron have designed galleries that complement the diverse facets of the museum's collections of world art. Galleries showcasing objects from the Americas, Africa, and the Pacific convey the grandeur of the collections by exhibiting them in free, open spaces and allowing objects to be viewed in three dimensions. The American paintings, sculptures, and furniture of the 17th through 19th centuries will be on view in classically proportioned rooms, and contemporary art will be housed in open, expansive galleries that utilize natural light.

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, and uses iconic elements from the old de Young, including the original sphinx sculptures, the Pool of Enchantment, and the hundred-year-old palm trees. Redwood, cypress, eucalyptus, ferns, and other native and non-native plants are used both inside and outside the museum, 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 30 countries, the de Young's broad collections are especially noteworthy for their pre-Columbian pieces, art from sub-Saharan Africa, Maori sculptures from New Zealand, and an encyclopedic collection of New Guinean objects of exceptional quality. The Museum's Rockefeller Collection of American paintings is the foremost collection of its kind in the western United States. It 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.

The de Young will inaugurate its new special exhibition galleries with "Daughter of Re: Hatshepsut, King of Egypt," on view from Oct. 15, 2005 to Jan. 29, 2006. The exhibition focuses on the reigns of New Kingdom rulers Tuthmosis I, Hatshepsut, and Tuthmosis III (1504-1425 B.C.). It was during this period that Egypt created an empire that stretched from the Sudan in the south to Syria in the north. Over 100 objects will be on view, including treasures from these conquered territories, ornate royal possessions, and monumental sculptures and reliefs.

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$10 Adults / $7 Seniors / $6 Youths 13-17 / $6 College Students with ID / Children 12 and under FREE. Additional charge for some special exhibits.

50 Tea Garden Drive in Golden Gate Park