Vision to transform Asian Art Museum unveiled

San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum Tuesday revealed plans for a $90 million upgrade to its building and programming, including a new 13,000-square-foot exhibition pavilion and terrace paid for in part by a major donation from Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang and his wife Akiko Yamazaki.

The new $38 million exhibition space on the eastern side of the museum’s Civic Center building will be named the Akiko Yamazaki and Jerry Yang Pavilion in honor of the couple’s donation, the largest in the museum’s history.

Construction is expected to start early next year on the pavilion, which will include 8,500 square feet of continuous gallery space and a 7,200-square foot rooftop Art Terrace. Museum officials expect to hold live performances and special events on the terrace and display contemporary sculpture and commissioned art installations.

Jay Xu, the museum’s director and CEO, said in a statement:

“The goal of the transformation is to tell the vital story of Asian art, from prehistory to the present, as an evolving, globally relevant tradition. … Museum visitors will discover fresh connections between Asian art and the world around them, engaging with the topics and issues that inspire artists working today.”

City officials Tuesday said the Pavilion and Art Terrace will enhance the pedestrian experience on Hyde Street.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement:

“The city of SF is looking forward to the Asian Art Museum’s building transformation, which will both enhance the experience of all who visit our magnificent museum and revitalize the Civic Center neighborhood.”

The Pavilion is expected to open in the summer of 2019, and the museum will remain open during construction.

The museum’s plans also include a new Koret Education Center, a multi-function room on the ground floor that can hold up to 75 people, and improved digital and multi-media technology to improve the visitor experience throughout the museum.

In all, the museum is working to raise $90 million for its ambitious improvement program, including $38 million for construction, $27 million for exhibition and program development and $25 million toward the endowment.

The fundraising campaign, chaired by Yamazaki, has raised more than $60.5 million so far from 72 donors.

The Asian Art Museum is based in a 1917 building that was once San Francisco’s main library and is part of the city’s Civic Center Landmark District. It was renovated and converted into a museum in 2003.