Press Release

Art museum project alternate plan due early next year

| 18 November 2009

The University of California, Berkeley's plans for a new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) are being modified due to lingering economic uncertainty, museum and university officials announced today (Wednesday, Nov. 18).

Several intriguing concepts for a new BAM/PFA home are under review and a detailed plan is expected to be unveiled early next year, said Lawrence Rinder, the director of BAM/PFA, which is one of the largest university art museums in the United States in both size and attendance.

Rinder emphasized that the university and BAM/PFA remain committed to building a new facility on university property at the corner of Oxford Street and Center Street, on the edge of Berkeley's burgeoning theater and arts district.

"Our goal has not changed," said Rinder. "We will create a remarkable new home for the museum. I'm confident we will find an innovative and affordable solution that advances our mission to inspire the imagination through art and film."

He pointed to continued commitment from lead donors and trustees of BAM/PFA, who are embracing the decision by campus and museum leadership to modify the building project.

"The creation of a new home for the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive in downtown Berkeley continues to be a crucial step in UC Berkeley's longstanding commitment to the visual arts and to engagement with our broader community," said UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. "While the architectural plans will change, what will not change is our shared goal of building a dynamic, welcoming, and seismically safe new museum at the corner of Center and Oxford streets."

A structural analysis found that BAM/PFA's current space on Bancroft Way was seismically inadequate and led to the 1999 relocation of the Pacific Film Archive theater to temporary campus quarters that it still occupies. A partial seismic retrofitting of the museum in 2001 has enabled BAM/PFA to stay open during planning for a new facility.

Toyo Ito & Associates, a Japanese architecture firm known for its innovative concepts and structural approaches, was brought on in 2006 to design a new museum. Toyo Ito's design for BAM/PFA met with critical support and enthusiasm in arts and architecture circles and efforts were underway to raise private funds to pay for most of the $200 million campaign.

However, university and museum leaders said that, in the current economic climate, modifying the project's proposed scope and expense by moving on to a new design is the only way to ensure BAM/PFA remains on track for a new museum.