Bay Watch Art + Architecture
by MAYER RUS
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art / sfmoma.org
The museum’s big expansion—designed by Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta—is still some years away, but the rooftop sculpture garden, which opened in 2009, is worth a visit. Check out the latest installment of the museum’s ongoing New Works series, focusing on the delightfully twisted ceramics of Brazilian artist Tiago Carneiro da Cunha and Sweden’s Klara Kristalova, which runs July 8–Oct. 30.
Palace of Fine Arts / palaceoffinearts.org
This eminently romantic architectural confection, designed by Bernard Maybeck for the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915, reopened to the public in early 2011 after an extensive seven-year renovation. The monumental Corinthian columns, pergolas and swans make for perfect wedding photos. Check the Website for specifics on performances in the 962-seat theater.
Contemporary Jewish Museum / thecjm.org
Architect Daniel Libeskind fused his signature jagged forms onto a landmark turn-of-the-century power plant by Willis Polk to create this peculiar building dedicated to the exploration of Jewish history and culture. The angular glass volumes are reminiscent of the architect’s Crystals mall at CityCenter in Las Vegas, but sadly there’s no Tom Ford store in sight. You don’t have to be Jewish to love the design—or an anti-Semite to hate it.
Pier 24 / pier24.org
A sprawling, formerly dilapidated warehouse near the base of the Bay Bridge is now home to the Pilara Foundation’s impressive permanent collection of 20th- and 21st-century photography. Whether your tastes run to Ansel Adams or Nobuyoshi Araki, you’ll find plenty to admire. The space is open by appointment only, but admission is free.
California Academy of Sciences / calacademy.org
Architect Renzo Piano’s splashy LEED Platinum–certified temple to nature and science boasts an aquarium, planetarium, natural-history museum and self-contained rain forest. The undulating, eco-fabulous green roof has drawn raves since the building opened in 2008, but the perennial star inside is Claude the albino alligator.
Hedge Gallery / hedgegallery.com
Somewhere between art and architecture lie the sublime goodies (vintage and contemporary furniture, lighting, glass, ceramics and more) on display in this world-class gallery discreetly tucked away in a Jackson Square alley. Heaven for design junkies.
De Young Museum / deyoung.famsf.org
Herzog & de Meuron’s building design—in particular, the perforated copper facade—is reason enough to keep returning to this Golden Gate Park landmark, located on the Music Concourse across from the California Academy of Sciences. Don’t miss the Whitman’s Sampler of delights in Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, which runs through Oct. 9.
Legion of Honor / legionofhonor.famsf.org
Who doesn’t love a good nature morte...or a Rembrandt, for that matter? Kick it old school at Dutch and Flemish Masterworks from the Rose-Marie and Eijk van Otterloo Collection, which runs July 9–Oct. 2
GLBT History Museum / glbthistory.org/museum
Opened in January, this is the first stand-alone museum in the United States dedicated to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender history and culture. At 1,600 square feet, it’s not exactly the Getty, but one inaugural exhibition, Our Vast Queer Past, goes back nearly a century to San Francisco’s gay roots; runs through December.
PHOTOS: California Academy of Sciences: Tim Griffith; Claude: Ron DeCloux; Contemporary Jewish Museum: Bruce Damonte; DeYoung: © 2011 Estate of Pablo Picasso/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Nicolaes Maes: Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts, Boston