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MOMA Mia: The New SFMOMA, One Year Later

MOMA Mia: The New SFMOMA, One Year Later

SFMOMA celebrated the anniversary of it’s expansive renovation with an unforgettable Birthday Bash last month. With a colorful performance by Grammy-winner Solange, it was an affair to rival the Met Gala (sans elevator brawls).

SFMOMA's lower level atrium. Photo: Justin Wong, 49miles.com.
SFMOMA’s lower level atrium. Photo: Justin Wong, 49Miles.com.

The new and improved SFMOMA has been turning heads since reopening last year. Its bright monochrome bathrooms quickly gained attention from the most enthusiastic of selfie takers, and social-media has taken a quick liking to the editorial-ready installations.

Related: SFMOMA is Back, and It’s Better Than Ever

The museum is even garnering attention for its stance on the current political climate’s impact on art, establishing an important role in the defense of museums. However, at the center of interest for museum-goers is the “Matisse/Diebenkorn” exhibit.

Entrance to Matisse and Diebenkorn exhibit. Photo: Justin Wong, 49miles.com.
Entrance to Matisse and Diebenkorn exhibit. Photo: Justin Wong, 49Miles.com.

Matisse/Diebenkorn: Gwyneth Paltrow’s “Favorite Show Ever”

The “Matisse/Diebenkorn” exhibit has caused quite the stir in San Francisco, a much-talked-about exhibit not to be overshadowed by all the Summer of Love buzz. Not only did Gwyneth Paltrow see this exhibition, she Instagrammed it; her caption read “maybe my favorite show ever.”

Visitors viewing art installments by Matisse. Photo: Justin Wong, 49miles.com.
Visitors viewing art installments by Matisse. Photo: Justin Wong, 49Miles.com.

As written in the program, the “Matisse/Diebenkorn” exhibit tells a story of artistic inspiration. It evaluates the prolific careers of French painter Henri Matisse and American artist Richard Diebenkorn, tracing the inspiration Diebenkorn drew from Matisse.

Diebenkorn lived and worked all across the Bay Area, which makes this exhibit particularly resonant for locals. He was raised in San Francisco, educated at Stanford, and later moved to Berkeley where he died. As such, his work hits close to home while also taking the viewer on an international journey through France. The popular exhibit ends May 29th, so don’t be the last to go.

Related: 11 Inspiring Art Exhibits in San Francisco

Entrance to Cloud City. Photo: Justin Wong, 49miles.com.
Entrance to Cloud City. Photo: Justin Wong, 49Miles.com.

Tomás Saraceno: Stillness in Motion — Cloud Cities

Another time-sensitive highlight is “Tomás Saraceno: Stillness in Motion — Cloud Cities,” which ends May 21st. Saraceno’s immersive installation creates a utopian setting in which society becomes airborne, ceasing to negatively impact the earth. Saraceno thus designed a space tethered with cloud-like, geometrical structures that recall spiders webs. Mirrors abound coerce human engagement, which is perhaps a schematic pull to include humanity in this constructed, fantasy society.

The mirrors also make excellent selfie opportunities, but riskily so–stare at your phone for too long and you’ll collide face-first into the installation.

Inside Cloud City. Photo: Justin Wong, 49miles.com.
Inside Cloud City. Photo: Justin Wong, 49Miles.com.

The New SFMOMA, One Year Later

Designed by renowned Norwegian architect Snøhetta, an up-to-date sense of modernity is prevalent in the SFMOMA’s new structure. Though the “Matisse/Diebenkorn” exhibit prohibits photography, the rest of the museum practically invites it. The sharp lines of the showrooms proffer a dimensionality perfect for photography. The Approaching American Abstraction exhibition prompts social media opportunities with its mute backgrounds and evocative color blocking.

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Living Wall. Photo: Justin Wong, 49miles.com.
Living Wall. Photo: Wassim Khemici, 49Miles.com.

From the dizzying design of the staircases to the boldly monochromatic bathrooms, every detail of the museum is photogenic. Even the windows are artful, as each frame uniquely cuts a striking tableau of San Francisco, displaying The City and life in it as art. This inclusion of the outside world is notable across the museum too, what with the Living Wall, the outdoor sculptures, and the thematic meshing of interior and exterior in “Matisse/Diebenkorn”.

BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich from Café 5. Photo: Wassim Khemici, 49miles.com.
BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich and glass of Pinot Noir from Café 5. Photo: Wassim Khemici, 49Miles.com.

From the outside, the SFMOMA doesn’t seem as massive as it actually is. However, the museum is large enough to pass an entire day, culminating in a satisfying exhaustion akin to spending hours at The Louvre. As such, pausing the day with a caffeine pick-me-up at Sightglass will awaken your endurance to experience more art, while unwinding at Café 5 for lunch and wine in the outdoor sculpture garden is a delicious way to debrief and put a cap on the day.

Sculpture Garden outside Café 5. Photo: Justin Wong.
Rooftop Sculpture Garden outside Café 5. Photo: Justin Wong, 49Miles.com.

An afternoon at the SFMOMA is a day well spent for locals, but is also must-see for visitors from all over the world. As the SFMOMA taglines declares, “Come with an open mind. Leave with so much more.”

Plan ahead to make the most out of your visit.

SFMOMA | 151 Third Street, San Francisco, CA | Hours: Friday-Tuesday: 10AM-5PM, Thursdays: 10AM-8PM | Prices Vary

SFMOMA. Photo: Justin Wong, 49miles.com.
SFMOMA. Photo: Justin Wong, 49Miles.com.

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