UC Berkeley stands by pledge to fund art museum

Future site of BAM-PFA. Photo: UC Berkeley.

The Chronicle’s Matier & Ross column today leads with a story about UC Berkeley pledging to spend up to $20 million on its new art museum, despite being financially strapped to the extent it has been forced to raise tuition fees by 8% next fall.

This is not news, as UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary told the UC Regents last spring that the university was prepared to kick in as much as $20 million if donations to help build the $96 million art museum fell short. According to Art Museum spokesperson Ariane Bicho, $50 million has been raised to date through gifts and pledges.

The question is perhaps one of priorities, however, as well as where the funds will be found. UC Berkeley spokesman Dan Mogulof says there are several sources for the money but that “no tuition, no student registration fees and no state-allocated funds” will be used to fund the museum.

Mogulof cites investment and endowment income, non-educational sales and services revenue and the school’s cost recovery fund as examples. He also stresses that it is not clear yet that the $20 million will be needed. “We have just stated there is a willingness to find funds if need be,” he says. In addition, the total would not be stumped up all at once. “We would not spend $20 million in one shot,” Mogulof says. “If we went into the debt market we would probably be looking at about $1 million a year.”


UCB’s former printing plant on Oxford Street has been earmarked as the new location for the Berkeley Art Museum which is moving from its seismically unsafe home on Bancroft Way. The original plan, to build a new structure in place of the old designed by starchitect Toyo Ito, was abandoned in favor of a less expensive option. It was announced in June that New York architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro would be responsible for designing the new building on Oxford Street.