Media Arts

“Media art can make the viewer an active participant. It can upend the roles of artist and spectator.”

Rudolf Frieling
Curator of Media Arts

Media plays a major role in everyday life, from cinema and television to surveillance and the Internet. Our Media Arts collection reflects how artists have used various technologies in their work since the 1960s. The collection encompasses a diverse range of time-based media artworks, including video, film, slide, sound, computer-based, and online projects as well as live performances.

From immersive installations to participation-based pieces, the works in the Media Arts collection become activated when exhibited. We not only commission new work for our dedicated galleries, but also explore how to create engaging experiences in public spaces throughout the museum. The department also organizes a robust year-round film program featuring narrative, non-fiction, documentary, and artist made film and video in the Phyllis Wattis Theater.

Reflecting the Bay Area’s tradition of technological innovation and forward thinking, SFMOMA is a leader in the presentation, collection, and preservation of time-based media works. Our Department of Media Arts, established in 1987, was among the first of its kind in the United States.

Candice Breitz, Working Class Hero (A Portrait of John Lennon) (detail), 2006; Collection SFMOMA, Purchase through a gift of Pam Kramlich, Elaine McKeon, the K. Hart Smith Trust, and the Accessions Committee Fund

Media in Transition
Our friends at the Tate Modern recently hosted "Media in Transition," a conference addressing the ways in which media arts are affected by changes in technology over time. Rudolf Frieling, curator of Media Arts, Robin Clark, director of the Artist Initiative, and Martina Haidvogl, associate media conservator, spoke with Julia Scher about their collective work on Scher's artwork Predictive Engineering.
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The Artist Initiative: Julia Scher

With the support of Artist Initiative team members, Julia Scher developed a new iteration of her artwork Predictive Engineering 3 (1993present).

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