Expansion FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Building and Construction

About SFMOMA's Programming as It Prepares for Expansion

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?

Expanding SFMOMA and tripling its endowment will accommodate the tremendous growth of the museum's audiences, educational programs, and collections that has occurred since our current building opened in 1995, and will allow us to better serve more visitors in the 21st century. The expansion will provide approximately 78,000 square feet of additional indoor gallery and public space, as well as approximately 70,000 square feet of public and support space, including larger and more advanced conservation facilities. SFMOMA's current 225,000-square-foot building consists of 59,500 square feet of galleries including the 14,700-square foot Rooftop Garden, added in 2010.

How long will the project take?

Construction began in summer 2013 and will happen in phases; the project is slated for completion in early 2016. Information about building construction will be made available on the museum's website as it is confirmed.

Where will the expansion be 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 museum spanning from Minna Street to Howard Street, creating galleries that will merge seamlessly with the existing museum.

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

SFMOMA is undergoing a complete transformation, not just a building addition. Snøhetta is committed to designing an expansion and renovations to the existing facility that are both forward-looking and complementary to the current Mario Botta-designed building. To date, SFMOMA has announced the conceptual designs for the project, and full schematic designs. The expansion will run contiguously along the back of the current building, and will feature a new façade and entry on the east side of the museum on Natoma Street, in an area that is currently hidden and largely inaccessible. The design also creates a new façade on Howard Street and along the pedestrian walkway next to the building. Where the building meets Howard Street, there will be a two-story gallery that is enclosed in glass on three sides.

Will SFMOMA be closed during the construction process?

To complete the construction that is part of the museum's transformation, it will be necessary to move SFMOMA's exhibitions and programs completely off site for a period of time. The museum's last day in its existing building was June 2, 2013, and the building will be temporarily closed to the public until the expanded museum opens in early 2016. However, nothing will stop us from presenting great art. We are developing a dynamic slate of collaborative and traveling museum exhibitions, site-specific installations, outdoor commissions, and neighborhood festivals that will unfold throughout the Bay Area and beyond during construction.

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 as It Prepares for Expansion

What type of exhibitions will SFMOMA produce off-site during construction?

At partner venues, SFMOMA will co-present major thematic exhibitions — one approximately each season — drawn either entirely or in part from SFMOMA's collection. Projects will involve both iconic and lesser-seen works from all areas of the museum's holdings and provide new contexts for viewing and understanding those artworks. Projects are still in development, but highlights include an exhibition at the Contemporary Jewish Museum considering connections between art and spirituality; a presentation at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts that takes SFMOMA's growing collection of South African photography as a starting point; and an exhibition at the Asian Art Museum that taps the collections of both SFMOMA and the Asian to spark intriguing dialogues about beauty in Asian and Western art.

Which museums will SFMOMA partner with to co-present exhibitions?

The museum's list of community partners is still growing as programming evolves. It currently includes the Asian Art Museum, Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University, Contemporary Jewish Museum, Museum of the African Diaspora, Oakland Museum of California, UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, among others.

What other kinds of programs will SFMOMA present during this time?

Additional projects in the works include a multi-location exhibition of Doug Aitken's Empire trilogy (2008-2014), which will present all three video installations simultaneously for the first time. SFMOMA will also present live art festivals and neighborhood-based initiatives; bring touring presentations of its renowned photography collection to communities throughout California; and create intensive 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 succeeded due to the extraordinary support of our Board of Trustees and close friends. To date we have raised $570 million, or 94 percent of our goal.

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 will design 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.