Expansion FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Building and Construction

About SFMOMA's Programming during Expansion Construction

About the Architects and the Selection Process

About the Budget and Fundraising

About the Fire Station


About the Building and Construction

How will this expansion change SFMOMA?

Designed in partnership with architecture firm Snøhetta, the 235,000-square-foot building expansion will more than double the museum’s exhibition space, add art-filled free-to-the-public galleries, and open the building to the surrounding neighborhood. The expanded museum will showcase a growing SFMOMA collection along with the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, one of the world’s greatest collections of modern and contemporary art. Learn more about SFMOMA’s transformation at future.sfmoma.org.

How long will the project take?

Construction began in summer 2013 and will happen in phases; the project is slated for completion in spring 2016.

Where is the expansion located?

The museum is working with space on Howard Street between Third and New Montgomery extending north to Natoma Street, including 670 Howard (formerly owned by Heald College), which SFMOMA purchased in 2007. The design includes additions that will connect to the rear of the existing building spanning from Minna Street to Howard Street.

What will the expansion look like? How will it relate to the current building?

Snøhetta's designs for the expansion are both forward-looking and complementary to the current Mario Botta-designed building, creating an addition that will merge seamlessly with the existing museum. Entrances on Third, Howard, and Minna Streets, along with free-of-charge art-filled spaces on the ground floor, will create new pathways and public spaces for visitors and the community. Learn more and see the design renderings.

Is SFMOMA closed during the construction process?

To complete the construction that is part of the museum's transformation, it has been necessary to move SFMOMA's exhibitions and programs off site. The museum's last day in the existing building was June 2, 2013, and the building will be temporarily closed to the public until the expanded museum opens in early 2016. SFMOMA is currently on the go, presenting a dynamic slate of collaborative exhibitions, site-specific installations, public programs, and events throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Learn more about SFMOMA On the Go.

Why is it necessary to replace the original staircase in the museum's atrium?

Based on audience-growth estimates and extensive analysis of pedestrian circulation and ticketing functions, Snøhetta's new stair configuration will ease visitor flow while preserving the overall character of Botta's original atrium as a dynamic, open plaza. It is projected that the majority of SFMOMA's visitors will continue to enter the museum from the main entrance on Third Street.

Where can I watch the construction unfold?

See what's happening on the construction site today — or create your own time-lapse movie to check out all the progress to date — using SFMOMA's construction cam.


About SFMOMA's Programming during Expansion Construction

What type of exhibitions is SFMOMA producing off-site during construction?

At partner venues, SFMOMA is co-presenting major thematic exhibitions drawn either entirely or in part from SFMOMA's collection. Projects provide new contexts for viewing and understanding both iconic and lesser-seen works from all areas of the museum's holdings. Learn about current and upcoming SFMOMA On the Go exhibitions and events.

Which museums is SFMOMA partnering with to co-present exhibitions?

The museum's list of community partners includes the Asian Art Museum, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Contemporary Jewish Museum, Museum of the African Diaspora, Oakland Museum of California, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, among others.

What other kinds of programs is SFMOMA presenting during this time?

Additional initiatives include public programs such as the Live Projects series; special family events around the Bay Area; touring presentations of SFMOMA’s renowned photography collection in communities throughout California; and new partnerships with local schools.


About the Architects and the Selection Process

Who are the architects, and why were they selected?

Snøhetta was recommended by SFMOMA's architect selection committee for its unique designs, collaborative philosophy and firm structure, and ability to apply elegant approaches to complex civic and cultural projects. This is a defining moment for SFMOMA and the committee believes this is also a defining chapter in Snøhetta's history and impact as a firm.

How did SFMOMA approach the selection of an architect for this project?

A committee of museum and community leaders evaluated distinguished architects worldwide; invited a select group of firms to submit proposals; narrowed the field to a short list of four firms (Snøhetta, Adjaye Associates, Diller Scofidio + Renfro, and Foster + Partners); and ultimately recommended Snøhetta to design the expansion. The final choice was ratified by the Board of Trustees.

Who was on the architect selection committee?

In addition to SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra and Board Chair Charles Schwab, the selection committee was composed of civic leaders and museum trustees with expertise in the realms of community service, art collecting, philanthropy, and real estate development: Gerson Bakar, Robert Fisher, Mimi Haas, Helen Schwab, Bill Wilson, and Robin Wright. The committee was advised by David Meckel, FAIA, director of research and planning at California College of the Arts, and assisted by the museum's Deputy Director Ruth Berson.


About the Budget and Fundraising

How much will the project cost?

The total goal of the Campaign to Transform SFMOMA is $610 million, which includes $245 million for the museum's endowment.

How will SFMOMA pay for the expansion?

The campaign has been very successful thus far due to the exceptional generosity of our Board of Trustees and close supporters. Learn more and support the campaign.

Why does the budget for this project include money for the endowment?

A healthy endowment provides the bedrock for any nonprofit organization to fulfill its mission and service to the community. SFMOMA plays a vital role as an educational, economic, and cultural resource in the Bay Area. Growing the museum's endowment is the single most important form of investment to support and sustain SFMOMA for future generations.


About the Fire Station

What happened to Fire Station 1 on Howard Street?

SFMOMA collaborated with the city to assist in the creation of a new, modern, and seismically safe fire station nearby on Folsom Street as a gift to the community, enabling the city to finally replace the outdated Howard Street station at no taxpayer expense. With city approval, SFMOMA agreed to fund, design, and construct a new station in accordance with current building codes for essential facilities. In return, the City agreed to deed to SFMOMA the existing Fire Station 1 and a portion of Hunt Alley directly behind the station. The new station represents a gift to the city valued at more than $10 million.

Who designed the new fire station?

The local architectural firm Leddy Maytum Stacy was retained to design the new firehouse.

What was the timeline for the firehouse project?

Construction began in winter 2011 and was completed in spring 2013.