View Spark segment on the de Young Museum. Original air date: March 2006. (Running Time: 5:39)
View Spark Web extra on the de Young Museum. (Running Time: 1:25)
After closing its doors three years ago, the de Young Museum reopened in a spectacular new building in October 2005. Since then, the museum, located in Golden Gate Park, has been host to more than 100,000 visitors a month. Spark pays a visit to the museum to find out what’s new at the new de Young.
Hailed as being among the finest modern museum buildings in the world, the new de Young is considered a masterpiece of the internationally acclaimed Swiss architectural team of Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. Replacing a traditional mission-style building, the new design is an angular, asymmetrical structure that provides exciting and unexpected views from every angle. The majority of the building is clad in a copper foil that will oxidize over time, giving it a green patina. The museum’s design also incorporates the work of a number of sculptors, including a subtle path of cracks created by English environmental sculptor Andy Goldsworthy.
With a new building come new opportunities. The de Young now has ample temporary galleries capable of housing major traveling exhibits from all over the world. And gallery space for the de Young’s famous permanent collection of American art has been greatly expanded. The new museum now displays fully a third of its collection of paintings, whereas most other American museums have space for only about 5 percent of their collections.
The new de Young also contains an artist’s studio, accommodating month-long artist-in-residence programs. Spark visits with Sharon Virtue, a San Francisco-based ceramics artist hard at work on a major installation. Virtue is building a full-sized African mud structure completely by hand. The vessel represents a womb, the interior walls of which Virtue is planting with submissions from children meant to represent their best intentions for the future.