From July 10, 2008, to January 4, 2009, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is pleased to present 246 and Counting: Recent Architecture + Design Acquisitions. This unusual exhibition unveils the process of collecting by showcasing the 246-plus objects acquired by SFMOMA since Henry Urbach, Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design, joined the staff in September of 2006.
Featuring an array of industrial-design objects, books, posters, photographs, and furniture, as well as architectural drawings and models, the exhibition opens this summer with 246 pieces and will be augmented during the fall as new works are brought into the collection.
246 and Counting combines conventional and unorthodox approaches to presenting design objects in a museum gallery. Some works will be shown in a traditional manner—formally installed, lit, and sequenced, and accompanied by descriptive labels. By contrast, most of the objects will be presented en masse, loosely grouped on low platforms and without the interpretive support that typically surrounds them. These works will be organized by acquisition date instead of by the ordering systems (such as historical influence or formal resonance) that are usually ascribed. The overall effect will be a hybrid of storage and display, as if the works have been gathered on a neatly organized loading dock.
As it reflects the collecting priorities of the architecture and design department at this particular moment, the exhibition gathers works by architects, designers, and artists, including Eliot Noyes’s model of the Westinghouse 1964 New York World’s Fair Pavillion; Kazuyo Sejima + Ryue Nishizawa/SANAA’s Tea and Coffee Tower; and Jack W. Stauffacher’s graphic portfolio Albert Camus, The Rebel: Twenty-five Typographic Meditations. Other highlights include Mauro Restiffe’s Empossamento photographs of Brasilia, and Ron Arad’s AYOR (At Your Own Risk) chair. These works build on the strengths of the architecture and design collection, which currently includes some 5,000 objects, while emphasizing conceptual and interdisciplinary approaches that advance our understanding of architecture and design as a cultural project.
To further illuminate the process of building a collection, a cell phone audio tour will offer stories behind many of the objects and reveal how decisions are made, with comments by Urbach and others involved in the accessions process.
With more than 26,000 works of art in its holdings, SFMOMA can only show a fraction of its collection at a time. This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see each and every piece the museum has collected in a given department over a two-year period.