ARTIST SAM DURANT'S INSTALLATION AT THE CONSTRUCTION SITE OF THE NEW BAM/PFA ENGAGES PUBLIC WITH A SERIES OF PROVOCATIVE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE ROLE OF MUSEUMS
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Berkeley, CA, June 5, 2014 - Is a museum fun? Is a museum truthful? Is a museum for everyone? A new project at the construction site of the future home of BAM/PFA in downtown Berkeley asks a series of questions about the roles museum play, or should play, in contemporary life. Draped along the site's fencing at Center and Oxford Streets, the colorful installation greets passersby with five provocative questions about the nature of museums. Onlookers are prompted to share their responses via Twitter (@isamuseum, #isamuseum) and on the project's website, www.isamuseum.org.
The What #isamuseum? project was originally conceived by Los Angeles–based artist Sam Durant for the J. Paul Getty Museum's Getty Artists Program. Durant is a multimedia artist whose work explores a variety of social, political, and cultural issues. His work addresses the varying relationships between culture and politics, engaging subjects as diverse as the Civil Rights Movement, Southern rock music, and Modernism.
“Our move to downtown Berkeley provides a tremendous opportunity to serve new audiences,” says BAM/PFA Director of Engagement Aimee Chang, who spearheaded the presentation of the project in Berkeley. “What #isamuseum? gives us a creative way to begin to more effectively understand what these audiences expect from us and other museums, so that we can better serve their expectations in the new building.”
Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley's primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national, and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA's mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.”
BAM/PFA presents approximately twenty art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year. The museum's collection of over 19,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive contains over 16,000 films and videos, including the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.
BAM/PFA is scheduled to move to a new building in downtown Berkeley in early 2016. Designed by world-renowned architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, whose acclaimed designs include New York City's High Line elevated park, The Broad in Los Angeles, and the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, BAM/PFA's new building project integrates the existing Art Deco-style former UC Berkeley printing press building at the corner of Oxford and Center Streets with an iconic new structure that will extend north to Addison Street. BAM/PFA began planning for the new facility in 1997, when an engineering survey determined that the current Bancroft Way building does not meet suitable seismic standards.
Installation location: Corner of Oxford and Durant Streets, Berkeley
Information: 24-hour recorded message (510) 642-0808; fax (510) 642-4889; TDD (510) 642-8734.