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SFMOMA's groundbreaking ceremony marks beginning of SFMOMA's transformation
Confetti erupts as SFMOMA leaders, Mayor Edwin M. Lee, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, and first-graders from South of Market's Bessie Carmichael Elementary kick off the museum's expansion construction. Photo: Drew Altizer Photography.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA.- At a groundbreaking event on Wednesday, May 29, 2013, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art celebrated with some 300 supporters to kick off the museum’s final four celebratory days before construction begins on its new 225,000-square-foot Sn°hetta-designed expansion.

Held at the construction site behind the museum, the event officially marked SFMOMA’s coming transformation, which, when its building reopens in 2016, will provide greater art experiences for visitors and support SFMOMA’s increasing role in city life and the international art community.

SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra, Board Chair Charles R. Schwab, and Board President Robert J. Fisher were joined by San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, and Sn°hetta principal Craig Dykers in marking this historic moment for the institution.

Earlier this month, the museum announced that it has raised its capital campaign goal to $610 million from $555 million, an increase of 10 percent. With 89 percent of the capital campaign goal raised three years ahead of the opening of SFMOMA’s expanded home, and with 100 percent of the museum’s Board of Trustees supporting the campaign, the museum believes that it can meet this new, higher goal. The additional campaign funds will enable SFMOMA to pursue a variety of additional initiatives, including the creation of a $10 million endowed fund that will enable SFMOMA to offer free admission to all visitors ages 18 and under.

The groundbreaking also launched a free four-day public celebration (May 30 through June 2) leading up to SFMOMA’s launch out of its building and into the community. From June 3 until the museum’s newly expanded home opens in early 2016, SFMOMA will be “on the go,” presenting new art experiences throughout the Bay Area and beyond.

“This is shaping up to be a phenomenal summer for SFMOMA, with the kickoff of construction on our new building, reaching an amazing fund-raising milestone, and the start of an exciting series of art programs with partner institutions across the region,” said Neal Benezra. “The support and excitement from people within this community is gratifying, and we are thrilled to be proceeding on the next phase in SFMOMA’s life in the city.”

Key elements of the groundbreaking ceremony included:

• The debut of an artist-commissioned augmented reality mobile application that allows the public to experience a reimagining of the museum’s Sn°hetta-designed building. Developed by Brooklyn-based duo Will Pappenheimer and John Craig Freeman, the public art “app-arition” is an interactive interpretation of the museum as a constantly changing hub of creativity. After downloading the free app, users can point their mobile device to “hotspots” located around the exterior and interior of the museum to experience a reimagining of the virtual building. Download instructions are available at

• A wall of cookies (created by SFMOMA’s famed Blue Bottle Coffee Bar pastry chef Caitlin Freeman) that represented graffiti-covered bricks of the current building—a sweet favor for guests to take with them.

• A limited-edition packet of California wildflower “groundbreaking seeds,” designed by San Francisco artist Tucker Nichols and inspired by the large-scale vertical garden that will grace a new outdoor sculpture terrace on the third floor of the expansion—becoming the biggest public living wall of native plants in San Francisco.

• A class of first-graders from South of Market’s Bessie Carmichael Elementary—representing the school-age visitors that SFMOMA aims to serve through enhanced educational programming in the new museum—who also helped celebrate this defining moment. Wearing hardhats and gathered around the stage, they counted down to the launch of “cannons” hidden around the construction site, which rained confetti down over the crowd as civic and museum leadership wielded ceremonial shovels.

“This is an extraordinary building project for SFMOMA and the city of San Francisco,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “The museum and its supporters have been leaders in this community, from helping to revitalize this neighborhood to furthering the city’s reputation as a center for arts and ideas. On behalf of all San Franciscans, I can say I was thrilled to participate in today’s event and look forward to welcoming a transformed SFMOMA that will serve as an even greater resource to all who live, work, and visit the San Francisco Bay Area region.”

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