From November 7, 2009, to July 6, 2010, in conjunction with the museum’s 75th anniversary, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) will present Dispatches from the Archives—an exhibition celebrating the museum’s rich and colorful history of ephemera, graphic design, and publications. This special presentation is organized by Stephanie Pau, SFMOMA manager of interpretation, and will be located in the museum’s Koret Visitor Education Center. Throughout the anniversary season, SFMOMA will present a series of exhibitions and programs under the heading 75 Years of Looking Forward illustrating the story of the artists, collectors, cultural mavericks, and San Francisco leaders who founded, built, and have animated the museum.
Part of the 75th anniversary suite of exhibitions, this presentation showcases examples of ephemera and design and at the same time highlights the museum’s long history of innovative public programs and events. The materials were culled from SFMOMA’s Library and Archives following the recent processing and cataloging of thousands of items and documents from the museum’s institutional history. From public programs posters to SFMOMA-published magazines, and from belt buckles to chocolate bars, the exhibition illustrates the story of an institution that cherishes a spirit of innovation while holding itself to the highest aesthetic standards.
By bringing to light striking and whimsical design pieces, Dispatches from the Archives showcases the diversity and creativity of both in-house and commissioned SFMOMA designers throughout the museum’s history. The material demonstrates the variety of public programs, lectures, and community events organized by the museum since its founding in 1935. Much of the material exemplifies the prolific work of the museum’s auxiliaries—societies such as the Women’s Board, SECA, and others that have worked tirelessly on behalf of the museum over its history.
Also presented are two adjunct projects: the Oral History Project and the Phone Booth. Since 1994 SFMOMA has helped art history come alive through the use of oral history and archival materials in its Interactive Educational Technologies programs. The Oral History Project, a vital educational resource for both scholars and the general public, preserves the history of the museum by presenting video and audio interviews with individuals whose contributions have shaped the institution. The project includes interviews with artists, curators, directors, collectors, and donors. Clips from the Oral History Project alongside commentary by SFMOMA visitors and docents will be on view in the Koret Visitor Education Center.
The Phone Booth project captures visitors’ voices through an interactive telephone display. Featuring a chalkboard with daily and weekly questions about the museum’s collection, Phone Booth invites visitors to pick up the phone and record a response. Those responses will be integrated into the museum’s permanent collection, multimedia tour, and/or SFMOMA Artcasts, SFMOMA’s monthly podcasts.