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SFMOMA Announces Pioneering Partnership to Share the Fisher Collection with the Public

With the Collection from Gap Founders, an Expanded SFMOMA Will Become Home to One of the World's Foremost Contemporary Art Collections

SFMOMA to Present Major Fisher Collection Exhibition as Part of 75th Anniversary Celebration in 2010

Released: September 25, 2009 · Download (31 KB PDF)

September 25, 2009 (San Francisco, CA) – San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) Board Chair Charles Schwab and Director Neal Benezra today announced that the museum is developing a groundbreaking relationship with Doris and Donald Fisher that would provide the Fisher Collection—one of the world’s leading collections of contemporary art—with a home at SFMOMA.

The Fishers, who together founded Gap Inc. in 1969, have long envisioned keeping their collection intact for the public in their hometown of San Francisco. The Fisher Collection includes some 1,100 works by leading artists including Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Anselm Kiefer, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol, among many others.

“San Francisco is where we raised our family and opened our first Gap store, and we want to give back to the city we love by sharing the art that means so much to us,” said Don Fisher. “Doris and I share a vision with SFMOMA to enhance its collections and programs, and we are prepared to make a substantial gift to strengthen the museum’s standing as one of the world’s great contemporary art museums.”

SFMOMA is in the planning phase for a major expansion, announced last April that will triple the museum’s gallery space. The expansion reignited the Fishers’ hopes of partnering with the museum to house their collection in San Francisco by providing the necessary space and resources. In August 2007 the Fishers proposed building a museum in the Presidio, but decided this past July not to move forward. 

“SFMOMA is thrilled to forge this groundbreaking partnership and bring the Fishers’ outstanding collection to the people of San Francisco and the world, which will make the museum an even greater public resource and provide visitors with a deeper, fuller view of key contemporary artists and movements,” said Benezra. “The Fishers’ collection is a perfect complement to SFMOMA’s already strong holdings of artists like Gerhard Richter, Andy Warhol, and Philip Guston, and gives us new strength in our representation of major figures like Alexander Calder, Anselm Kiefer, Richard Serra, and Chuck Close.”

“This extraordinary partnership with the Fisher family will greatly advance SFMOMA’s standing as one of the world’s leading museums for contemporary art,” said Schwab. “Doris and Don Fisher are longtime, valued friends and patrons of SFMOMA, and they are demonstrating the kind of vision that has fostered the development of many of the world’s greatest museums and public institutions throughout history.”

Upon completion of SFMOMA’s planned expansion, works from the Fisher Collection will be on display in a new wing that will also incorporate art from the museum’s collection. In addition, works from the Fisher Collection will be interwoven with SFMOMA’s modern and contemporary holdings in existing galleries. Together, they will form one of the world’s most important collections of art of the past 50 years. The Fishers will create a trust, administered in collaboration with SFMOMA, to oversee the care of their collection at the museum for a minimum of 25 years.

“This amazing collection belongs right here in the City of San Francisco,” said Mayor Gavin Newsom. “Doris and Don Fisher have made an incredibly generous offer, and SFMOMA is the ideal partner and location to house this collection. This collaboration deserves our unanimous support and appreciation. This is a gift for the ages.”

Pending additional site planning and approval from local agencies, SFMOMA’s expansion is now envisioned to provide the museum with an additional 100,000 square feet of gallery and public space, greatly enhancing and expanding both the presentation of art in all areas of its collections—painting and sculpture, photography, architecture and design, and media arts—and its educational programs. The expansion will also include 40,000 square feet of additional space, including larger and more advanced conservation facilities and an expanded library. The expansion will be located on Howard Street (between Third and New Montgomery streets) on a site bridging Natoma Street and connecting to the museum along the southern facade—creating galleries that will merge seamlessly with the existing building.

Relocating administrative support space from the museum to a new wing will provide SFMOMA with more than 13,000 square feet of new gallery and public space in its current building, while consolidating all staff offices to one on-site location. In addition, the expansion will include a new entry on Minna Street (which runs along the museum’s northern facade) to improve access for school groups and for visitors to the museum’s Phyllis Wattis Theater for public programming.

In the coming months, SFMOMA will be working with Bain and Company to develop an extensive business plan to define the impact of the enlarged facility, increased operations, and enhanced programming on the museum’s expansion and annual operating budgets. The business plan will inform both the contributions to the capital campaign and the endowment that will be made by the Fishers, as well as the funds that need to be raised by the museum.

“We will be going through a period of due diligence so that we have a clear and concise picture of the funding that is needed to support this unprecedented collaboration,” stated Schwab. “This presents a tremendous opportunity for SFMOMA and for our city, and with it we have a responsibility to ensure that the museum has the necessary physical, financial, and staff resources in place to sustain and grow through time.”

The proposed new wing at SFMOMA presents an ideal location for the Fisher Collection, one where it will be seen by the hundreds of thousands of people who visit the museum annually. In addition, SFMOMA is conveniently accessible to public transportation and parking as well as hotels, restaurants, and other cultural institutions in downtown San Francisco. The collaboration also minimizes the environmental impact and diffusion of resources that would result from building a new, separate institution.

Fisher Collection Exhibition in 2010

SFMOMA is organizing a major exhibition of the Fisher Collection that is scheduled to open in summer 2010 as part of the celebration of its 75th anniversary. On the weekend of January16 through 18, the museum will kick off a yearlong schedule of special programs, exhibitions, and events exploring SFMOMA’s impact and evolution as a leading cultural resource for the people of the Bay Area and visitors from around the world. 

About Doris and Don Fisher

Doris and Don Fisher started collecting modern and contemporary art more than 40 years ago. They have acquired in-depth holdings by artists they admire, and their collection is distinguished in its representation of the entire careers of key artists of the 20th and 21th centuries. Don Fisher has been an SFMOMA Trustee since 1983 and has served on several Board committees, most recently serving as Secretary/Treasurer. Over the years, Doris Fisher has served on SFMOMA’s Education Committee and also serves as co-chair of the Collector’s Committee and the Trustee Council of the National Gallery in Washington, DC.


SFMOMA welcomes more than 650,000 visitors annually, and more than 46,000 students visit each year. Since opening its South of Market building in 1995, SFMOMA has added more than 13,000 works to its collections, 95 percent of which were donated, doubling its holdings to 26,000 works. At the same time, SFMOMA’s family programs have increased five-fold, teacher training programs have increased six-fold, and gallery tours have expanded to 1,800. SFMOMA has mounted a series of exhibitions that have drawn both record attendance and critical praise, including recent exhibitions by Diane Arbus, Olafur Eliasson, Eva Hesse, Frida Kahlo, William Kentridge, Sol LeWitt, Richard Tuttle, and Jeff Wall.

Jill Lynch 415.357.4172 jilynch@sfmoma.org
Clara Hatcher Baruth 415.357.4177 chatcher@sfmoma.org
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