Humanities, Research

BAM/PFA announces transition details for its move to downtown Berkeley

The Berkeley Art Museum will make temporary changes in its programming this year, in order to pull collections from storage and stage them for the move to a new state-of-the-art building in downtown Berkeley.

The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) announced today (Monday, March 31) temporary program hiatuses in preparation for its move to a new, iconic state-of-the-art building in downtown Berkeley.

Gallery programs in the current building at 2626 Bancroft Way, on the south side of campus below College Avenue, will be suspended in mid-December 2014. The PFA Library and Film Study Center will also close at that time. Film programming at the nearby PFA Theater, at 2575 Bancroft Way, will remain fully active through July 2015.

In 2015, BAM/PFA will present off-site two MATRIX exhibitions and the annual M.F.A. graduate show, as well as a number of public programs. All BAM/PFA programs will resume in full with the re-opening in 2016.

An aerial view from the northeast of the future downtown Berkeley home of BAM/PFA. Image courtesy of the UC Regents.

An aerial view from the northeast of the future downtown Berkeley home of BAM/PFA. Image courtesy of the UC Regents.

“This plan will affect our programs minimally, while freeing up gallery floor space needed to pull our collected works from storage and re-stage them for the big move,” said Director Lawrence Rinder. “Even though we are scaling back our operations a bit, we’re still open for much of our regular business. We are announcing this news now to provide audiences with the greatest opportunity to visit us while we’re still exhibiting great art and hosting exciting performances on Bancroft Way.”

The new facility — designed by the award-winning architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which boasts such well-known projects as New York City’s High Line elevated park, The Broad in Los Angeles, and the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art — is under construction. It is expected to open in early 2016.

Current exhibitions at BAM/PFA include The Possible, a multifaceted experimental exhibition that has transformed the galleries into a site of artistic creation and collaboration; Barbara Chase-Riboud: The Malcolm X Steles, which showcases monumental sculptures and lyrical drawings by the internationally acclaimed artist and author; Deities, Demons, and Teachers, which features a rotating display of works by Indian, Nepalese, and Tibetan artists; and The Elephant’s Eye, which explores depictions of animals in the art of India, Thailand, and Cambodia.

Exhibitions planned for later this year include Forrest Bess: Seeing Things Invisible, offering Bay Area audiences a rare opportunity to view works by the visionary twentieth-century painter; Color Shift, featuring favorite works from our collection by Helen Frankenthaler, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, and others; MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art presentations highlighting the works of Bay Area artist Will Rogan, Romanian artist Geta Brătescu, painter Joseph Holtzman, and Berkeley-based artist John Zurier; American Wonder: Folk Art from the Collection,  showcasing painting, drawing, and sculpture from the post-Revolutionary through Civil War periods; Hofmann by Hoffman, which includes some of the first paintings that the Abstract Expressionist artist donated to help establish BAM/PFA (formerly the University Art Museum); as well as a presentation of works dedicated in the memory of preeminent Asian art scholar and UC Berkeley professor James Cahill.

BAM/PFA’s new building project integrates an existing Art Deco-style former UC Berkeley printing press building at the corner of Oxford and Center Streets with an iconic new structure designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro. BAM/PFA began planning for the new facility in 1997, when an engineering survey determined that the Bancroft Way building designed by Bay Area architect Mario Ciampi in 1970 does not meet suitable seismic standards.

The campus will determine the Ciampi building’s future use, which will likely provide academic and support space for campus units that need more space. Upgrading the building is expected to include construction that would eliminate the open gallery space that the museum requires for its exhibitions.[PC1] [A2]

In 2001, ilm programs were moved across the street to the central campus, when a partial retrofit of the Ciampi building was undertaken as a temporary measure. The new building will reunite BAM/PFA’s world-renowned exhibition and film programs under the same roof.


  • About BAM/PFA

Founded in 1963, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) is UC Berkeley’s primary visual arts venue and among the largest university art museums in terms of size and audience in the United States. Internationally recognized for its art and film programming, BAM/PFA is a platform for cultural experiences that transform individuals, engage communities, and advance the local, national, and global discourse on art and ideas. BAM/PFA’s mission is “to inspire the imagination and ignite critical dialogue through art and film.”

BAM/PFA presents approximately 20 art exhibitions and 380 film programs each year.

The museum’s collection of over 16,000 works of art includes important holdings of Neolithic Chinese ceramics, Ming and Qing Dynasty Chinese painting, Old Master works on paper, Italian Baroque painting, early American painting, Abstract Expressionist painting, contemporary photography, and video art. Its film archive of over 14,000 films and videos includes the largest collection of Japanese cinema outside of Japan, Hollywood classics, and silent film, as well hundreds of thousands of articles, reviews, posters, and other ephemera related to the history of film, many of which are digitally scanned and accessible online.