As a visitor, you come upon corridor after corridor housing the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s abundant collection, and its recent expansion comes as no surprise. Designed by Norwegian-American firm Snøhetta, the $305-million U.S. ($400-million Canadian) 10-storey extension opened in May 2016. It rises as a rippling white behemoth behind the museum’s previous brick building in the city’s SoMa (South of Market) district, tripling its gallery space to 170,000 square feet (three American-sized football fields) and making SFMOMA the largest museum of modern and contemporary art in North America.
In the expanded museum’s inaugural year, it hosted boundary-defying exhibits such as Tomás Saraceno’s Stillness in Motion—Cloud Cities (on view until May 21, 2017)—imagining a future of ecologically friendly airborne cities in delicate interconnected structures—while building on SFMOMA history. This expansion dedicates most of the third floor to the Pritzker Center for Photography (the largest U.S. museum space devoted to the medium) with its interpretive gallery, where guests may scroll through interactive screens, which expound upon questions such as whether a photograph preserves or spoils a moment.
Vast as it is, SFMOMA remains welcoming and accessible—critical qualities, since the museum endeavours to foster the next generation of art lovers, offering free admission to those under 19. The ground floor, also a “free” space, will house site-specific pieces that change every few years. Currently, Richard Serra’s high-walled, looping steel installation Sequence, from the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, is on view.
Tomás Saraceno’s Stillness in Motion—Cloud Cities runs from December 17, 2016 to May 21, 2017 at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.