SAN FRANCISCO—April 3, 2008—The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) today announced a $10 million gift from AT&T for ongoing support—in perpetuity—of the Free First Tuesdays program. As a result of this generosity, First Tuesdays are always free, thanks to AT&T. This partnership represents SFMOMA and AT&T’s shared goal of providing free museum access to the diverse communities of San Francisco and the Bay Area at large. The announcement of the gift was made today at a groundbreaking event at the future site of SFMOMA’s new Rooftop Garden, which will sit atop a parking garage formerly owned by AT&T.
“Over the years, AT&T has been a wonderful neighbor and a great supporter of the museum’s efforts to reach out to and build its audiences, and for this we are most grateful. With AT&T’s generous support of the Free First Tuesdays program, SFMOMA will be able to guarantee that Bay Area residents, students, and all community members will be able to view, experience, and learn about modern and contemporary art through our exemplary exhibitions and public programs,” said SFMOMA Director Neal Benezra.
“We’d like more people from all walks of life to experience the magic of modern art,” said Ken McNeely, president of AT&T California. “This gift is AT&T’s way of ensuring that more people are exposed to the exceptional art at SFMOMA.”
“Free First Tuesdays provides opportunities for the public to engage with modern and contemporary art. By supporting this important program, AT&T is helping the museum connect to the wide-ranging audiences that make up our Bay Area community. We are incredibly grateful to AT&T for supporting us in this effort,” Benezra continued.
First Tuesdays are always free, thanks to AT&T.
Free First Tuesdays is designed to provide free admission on the first Tuesday of every month. The program historically attracts Bay Area residents, tourists, students, and community members at large, including those that may not otherwise have access to art education and museum experiences.
On the first Tuesday of every month, SFMOMA waives admission fees for all visitors. Visitors get free access to the museum’s offerings, including lectures and film screenings about artists and art-related topics that are offered in conjunction with exhibitions and the museum’s collection. These talks are presented by curators and prominent visiting lecturers; they provide stimulating visual and intellectual experiences and promote a deeper understanding of artists and their work.
“We believe that art endures. Up close and personal, modern and contemporary art, in particular, communicates and demonstrates how a culture defines and expresses itself—and almost always with intense passion and skill. As a company in the business of communication, it’s that passion, combined with skill and talent, with which AT&T seeks affiliation,” said McNeely.
How the AT&T gift came about
While the partnership between SFMOMA and AT&T has been long and meaningful, it was strengthened in 1999 when AT&T decided to build a parking garage on Minna Street behind SFMOMA, near AT&T’s California headquarters. The museum’s support and advocacy at the time was a key factor in the company’s ability to build what is today known as the SFMOMA Garage, and the partnership that evolved through those combined efforts deepened over the years.
As a result, when SFMOMA approached AT&T about its desire to build the Rooftop Garden and the need for the air rights over the garage in order to do so, AT&T was eager to not only facilitate the building of this important community gathering place, but to support the museum and the neighborhood that had embraced it for so many years.
Recently, AT&T moved its California headquarters several blocks away and thus sold its signature building and the accompanying garage. It was important to AT&T, however, to leave behind a legacy and help ensure the future vitality of the museum. While AT&T will always have an important connection to the Rooftop Garden, the museum and AT&T agreed that financial support, in keeping with AT&T’s funding priorities, could best be utilized by ensuring free access to the museum for years to come. What resulted was this extremely generous gift of $10 million, which will make it possible for all to enjoy the museum and the Rooftop Garden free of charge on the first Tuesday of every month.