New BAMPFA ready to open Sunday in downtown Berkeley

City view of BAMPFA Photo Iwan Baan
The new BAMPFA strikes a contemporary architectural note in the heart of downtown Berkeley. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFA

The countdown is nearly over. The new home of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, plum in the heart of downtown Berkeley, will throw open its doors to the public with a big open house on Sunday, Jan. 31, starting at 11 a.m.

Before that, there’s a gala party, which is being held Thursday night at a temporary tent set up on UC Berkeley lawn abutting Oxford Street. The gala has raised around $1 million for education programs at the new museum, its director, Lawrence Rinder, said at a press preview event held Thursday morning.

Read more about the new Berkeley Art Museum Pacific Film Archive.

Rinder also spoke of the challenge of designing a museum that has a dual identity and responsibility towards both art and film, and the commitment to creating a space that is both accessible and welcoming.


“This is not just a place to come look and see,” he said. “There are many areas for community engagement.” Rinder cited as examples the museum’s reading room, art lab and its stepped salvaged-wood seating, created by master woodworker Paul Discoe, where visitors can relax and chat, as well as watch performances. He added that a goal of the museum’s design was to have a flow that was conducive to “wandering and to being surprised.”

At a press preview of the new BAMPFA on Jan. 28, guests sit on seating designed by Paul Discoe. A mural by Qiu Zhijie is on the wall behind it. Photo: Tracey Taylor
At a press preview of the new BAMPFA on Jan. 28, guests sit on salvaged-wood stepped seating designed by Paul Discoe. A mural by Qiu Zhijie is on the Art Wall. Photo: Tracey Taylor

The inaugural exhibition, “Architecture of Life,” curated by Rinder, is in place (Berkeleyside will have a review shortly). And a new mural was on display Thursday on BAMPFA’s Art Wall, visible to passers-by through the large Center Street windows. Called “The World Garden,” it was created in five days by Chinese artist Qiu Zhijie, working from a scaffold. A new work of art will be created on the Art Wall every six months, Rinder said.

Charles Renfro, a partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects who designed the new museum, echoed Rinder when he spoke at the preview about “places to get lost” at the new BAMPFA. Renfro talked about the delightful qualities of the 1930s printing plant that forms the core of the museum — its light quality and original features – and the need to add to it with more beautiful spaces to serve a variety of purposes.

“A museum of the 21st century needs to be small, medium and large, black, white and gray in equal measures,” he said, emphasizing the requirement of flexibility. “It’s not a one-size-fits-all design solution.”

Details of the open day on Jan. 31, the opening exhibition, talks and film programs can be found at the BAMPFA website.

Babette Photo Iwan Baan
The dramatic Babette café space is cantilevered over the museum’s Center Street entrance. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFA
BAMPFA as seen from corner of Oxford and Addison with exterior PFA screen. Photo Iwan Baan
BAMPFA as seen from corner of Oxford and Addison with exterior PFA screen. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFA
Gallery Photo Iwan Baan
A gallery at the newly located BAMPFA which opens Sunday. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFA
PFA Photo Iwan Baan
The state-of-the art, custom-built Pacific Film Archive cinema. Photo: Iwan Baan/courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFA
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The outdoor Pacific Film Archive screen that gives onto Addison Street, as seen on Jan. 28, showing “Rudimentary Moves,” a video work by Naomie Kremer. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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Bookshelves in the reading room of the new BAMPFA, where visitors can relax, peruse books, or play with Lego blocks. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Charles Renfro (foreground), a partner in the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro who designed the new museum, walks through the new BAMPFA museum shop. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Charles Renfro (foreground), a partner in the architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro who designed the new museum, walks through the new BAMPFA museum shop. Photo: Tracey Taylor
A gallery for Himalayan and Asian art is distinguished by a parquet fir floor. Photo: Tracey Taylor
A gallery for Himalayan and Asian art is distinguished by a parquet fir floor. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Gallery space at the new BAMPFA. Photo: Iwan Baan: courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFA
Gallery space at the new BAMPFA. Photo: Iwan Baan: courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro and BAMPFA
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A work by Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno using real spider webs is part of the opening exhibition “Architecture of Life” at the new BAMPFA. Photo: Tracey Taylor
The intersection of the original 1930s building with the new addition with a view out to Oxford Street and a work of art by Felix Schramm on the right wall. Photo: Tracey Taylor
The intersection of the original 1930s building with the new addition with a view out to Oxford Street and a work of art by Felix Schramm on the right wall. Photo: Tracey Taylor
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The new Babette café at BAMPFA. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Joan Ellis and Patrick Hooker, owners of Babette, the café that has moved from the old BAMPFA to its new location. Photo: Tracey Taylor
Joan Ellis and Patrick Hooker, owners of Babette, the café that has moved from the old BAMPFA to its new location. Photo: Tracey Taylor

Related:
BAMPFA builds temporary tent for its opening gala (1.22.16)
Master craftsman Paul Discoe puts his touch on new BAMPFA (12.24.15)
New museum gets ready to open in the heart of Berkeley (11.19.15) 
Berkeley Art Museum’s iconic building closes after 44 years (12.24.14)
Gallery: Fans celebrate Berkeley Art Museum milestone (07.21.14)
Salvaged trees to be used in Berkeley’s new art museum (05.22.14)
On the cusp: Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (05.01.13)
Before new Berkeley art museum can rise, a demolition (04.08.13)
Art museum chief: New space good for Town & Gown (02.13.13)
Work begins on new Berkeley Art Museum, top open in 2016 (02.12.13)
Palpable possibilities: Berkeley Art Museum’s home awaits (01.25.12)
New Berkeley Art Museum mixes old with eye-catching new (09.16.11)

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