SFMOMA secures expansion funding, finalizes Fisher deal

The deepest of pockets in San Francisco’s art-patron world have donated $250 million to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, launching an international search for the architect that will design its expansion.

And museum leaders on Thursday finalized details of a deal with the family of Doris and the late Donald Fisher, who founded Gap Inc. in San Francisco in 1969. The agreement lays out exactly how the family’s large collection of contemporary art will be showcased during the next 100 years, including the minimum number of works that will be shown at any given time, said Marnie Burke de Guzman, SFMOMA’s marketing director.

She said the museum has retained the right to integrate the Fisher works with the rest of its collection, and has full control over which art will be shown, resolving a dispute that arose years ago when Donald Fisher demanded the family retain some curatorial control with the collection.

The museum initially announced in April a plan to expand its 15-year-old facility, and that plan became even more ambitious in September, when, days before Donald Fisher’s death, SFMOMA reached an agreement to house his family’s renowned collection. The Fishers own 1,100 pieces of contemporary art and are reputedly the largest private owner of such work in the world. The museum is remaining mum on exactly who the donors of the $250 million are, only saying that the contributions come from within the museum’s leadership. Bob Fisher, Donald and Doris Fisher’s son, sits on the museum’s board of directors.

Of the contribution, $100 million will go toward expanding the museum’s endowment and the rest will help fund expansion. The expansion will add 100,000 square feet to the museum, tripling its current gallery space. The donation represents more than half of the $480 million the museum says it aims to collect for the work.

Burke de Guzman said the $100 million contribution to double SFMOMA’s endowment means it won’t have to rely on ticket sales.

“It will allow us to push the envelope and show upcoming artists that may not draw a huge crowd,” she said.


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