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Presidio Trust approves Gap founders’ art museum

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Don and Doris Fisher’s private art collection took one step closer to becoming open to the public, after the Presidio Trust announced plans on Wednesday to move forward in development with the Gap Inc. founders on a contemporary art museum in the Presidio.

Pending the results of forthcoming environmental impact studies, construction on the museum could begin sometime in 2009, with museum doors opening as early as 2010, although many details of the project still must be finalized during that time period before it reaches final approval, Presidio Trust representative Dana Polk said.

The Presidio Trust elected to OK the Fisher’s museum proposal, dubbed the Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio, in lieu of a competing plan proposed by the Presidio Historical Association for a museum that would detail the history of the former Army post.

The Fishers have pledged to provide all funding for the art museum, as well an investment of $10 million into upgrading the Presidio’s Parade Grounds. The PHA had no financing outlets identified for its proposal, a factor that played a large role in the trust’s decision to move forward with the Fishers’ proposal, Polk said.

“Don and Doris Fisher are thrilled and honored that the Presidio Trust accepted their proposal,” said Sam Singer, spokesman for the Gap Inc. founders. “They think it will be a benefit to the Presidio and San Francisco to have the world’s greatest private art collection visible to the public.”

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The Presidio Trust also announced plans on Wednesday to begin development on a $5 million “heritage museum,” an interactive project that differs from the PHA’s proposal, but will incorporate aspects of the Presidio’s history. Polk said that funding for the project has already been appropriated in the trust’s five-year budget outlook, and that an advisory committee, slated to include members of the PHA, will be established to help steer the creation of the heritage museum.

“We think the heritage museum represents a great first step, a real advance over what they have now, which in reality, is nothing,” association President Gary Widman said. “But their proposal appears to be only a proposal to interpret the Presidio’s structures, and that tells a park visitor very little about American history.”

wreisman@examiner.com

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