San Francisco, March 24, 2020 — On May 8, the Asian Art Museum will unveil its transformed building and visitor experience to the public. The transformation is the result of five years of planning, design, and construction, during which the museum raised $103 million to expand its special exhibition galleries and gathering spaces, invest in contemporary art programs, strengthen its endowment, refresh its classrooms, enhance its digital offerings, and reimagine the presentation of masterpieces across 31 collection galleries representing the historical breadth and cultural depth of Asia.
Kicking things off with a glitterball bang, the museum will open to the public on Friday evening, May 8, with a music, dance, food- and drink-filled party from 7 to 11 p.m. ($20 member tickets; $30 general; $50 VIP – limited VIP availability). The next morning, Saturday, May 9 — and continuing through Sunday, May 10, and Monday, May 11 — the museum will celebrate this three-day opening weekend with free ticketed admission (advance reservations strongly recommended).
To thank the community that inspired the museum to enhance its visitor experience, this festival features a vibrant roster of live performances inside the museum and around its Civic Center campus. It will include hands-on family activities, artist demonstrations and workshops, storytelling and architecture tours, iconic Bay Area food trucks to complement the museum cafe’s Asian Californian menu and signature Boba Guys tea service, and much more.
“The transformed Asian Art Museum truly offers something for all,” says Jay Xu, Barbara Bass Bakar Director and CEO of the Asian Art Museum. “A chance to revisit that beloved ‘old friend’ in a new light in one of our reimagined collection galleries. To see a global phenomenon like teamLab that opens your eyes or broadens your understanding of what art can be or do. To spend time with a local artist or creator at a program that changes your perspective on life in an ever more diverse city and country. A chance to refresh, reconnect, and experience a moment that will become a treasured memory.”
For a full opening weekend schedule, including ticket reservations (strongly recommended for the free days to prevent overcrowding) and information about a special Mother’s Day brunch menu, please visit the museum website starting in April.
With the opening of the new pavilion, the Asian Art Museum’s official opening hours will also shift, with the museum staying open on Mondays and closing to the public on Tuesdays. Starting May 8, the museum’s new hours will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Mondays (closed every Tuesday), with extended hours until 9 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays during the spring and summer. As part of this enhanced access, Kaiser Permanente First Free Sundays will kick off on June 7, 2020.
With 28,000 square feet of new space across multiple levels, the centerpiece of the transformation is the 8,500-square-foot Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Pavilion topped by the 7,500-square-foot East West Bank Art Terrace. Designed by award-winning Bangkok-born architect Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY in Los Angeles, California, the innovative terra-cotta cladding and faceted windows of the pavilion and art terrace harmonize with the Beaux-Arts facade of the museum’s main 1917 building and 2003 postmodern updates from Gae Aulenti. These new spaces — including thousands of square feet of circulation — accommodate the technical and spatial demands of contemporary art installations both indoors and out.
“We call our approach ‘acupuncture architecture’ because it locates specific points of the building for architectural intervention, rather than applying a top-down ‘plastic surgery’ approach,” says Yantrasast. “We seek to heal the building holistically and from within, carefully identifying key moments of ‘underperformance’ which inform our architectural interventions. The impact is significant yet sensitive, restoring the functionality of the whole structure and investing the building with new vibrancy, flow, and energy.”
The inaugural experience in the pavilion — San Francisco’s largest new art exhibition space — is teamLab: Continuity, the U.S. museum debut of a major exhibition by renowned Tokyo-based international art collective teamLab. To ensure the highest quality experience for every visitor, this dynamic exhibition will require timed-entry tickets, which will be available on the redesigned museum website next month. Priority reservation for museum members will go on sale at 9 a.m. PST on April 2, and tickets for the public will be available beginning at 9 a.m. PST on April 3. Advance reservations for teamLab are required for the free weekend, May 9 to 11, and throughout the run of the exhibition.
teamLab: Continuity invites audiences to explore a series of interactive digital installations spread across the pavilion. Immersed in teeming wonderlands, visitors are encouraged to roam freely through projected environments of vibrant color and sound that dissolve into one another. The touch-sensitive artworks respond to audience interaction, transforming visitors into participants: rather than a series of preprogrammed movies, the digital animation is derived from dynamic algorithms that react to visitors’ locations and movements within the exhibition space. The result is an exhibition where the artworks are never exactly the same, and an experience that changes from moment to moment.
“teamLab is the ideal way to reintroduce ourselves to our hometown and Bay Area cultural community,” continues Xu. “This is an immersive, jaw-dropping experience like no other, one that’s defined by visitors’ own pathways through the ever-changing spaces and is limited only by their imaginations — a perfect reflection of everything we set out to achieve with our transformation.”
With this expansion, the Asian Art Museum’s new “portfolio approach” means there will always be a special exhibition or installation open, ensuring a fresh experience with every visit. During the opening weekend festivities, every gallery and art-hosting space of the transformed museum will feature new commissions; new acquisitions from living Asian, Asian American, and Asian diaspora artists; and thoughtful presentations of traditional and contemporary art that showcase museum curators’ expertise in connecting past to present.
Opening Weekend is supported by San Francisco Grants for the Arts.
Information: 415.581.3500 or www.asianart.org
Location: 200 Larkin Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
Hours: Starting on May 8, the museum will be open every day of the week except Tuesdays. Hours will be 10 am – 5 pm on Wednesdays and Saturdays through Mondays, with extended hours until 9 pm on Thursdays and Fridays through September. Through May 7, the museum will be open Tuesdays through Sundays (closed Mondays). Hours are 10 am – 5 pm with the exception of Thursday nights, when the museum is open until 9 pm.
Museum Admission: Free for museum members and children (12 & under). $15 for adults and $10 for ages 65 & over, ages 13 to 17), and college students (with ID). Please check website for updates.
Access: The Asian Art Museum is wheelchair accessible. For more information regarding access: 415.581.3598; TDD: 415.861.2035.
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