Berkeley Art Museum announces temporary hiatus in preparation for relocation

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Sam Engel/Staff

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After more than a year of construction on the new state-of-the-art location of the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, on Monday, the museum announced plans to temporarily halt programs as it prepares for its move to Downtown Berkeley.

The museum, founded in 1963 and currently located on Bancroft Way between College Avenue and Bowditch Street, will close in mid-December. The new museum, located on Oxford Street, a block away from the Downtown Berkeley BART Station, is set to open in January 2016 with new exhibitions.

While the gallery will shut down in December, the film program will stay open through July 2015, because it is located in a different building and has fewer materials to move to the new location.

After closing in December, the gallery will spend the first half of the year taking inventory of collections and packing up exhibits and offices, while the second half of the year will be dedicated to moving and installing the opening shows at the new location, said Lawrence Rinder, director of BAM/PFA.

Still, there will be exhibitions at various off-site locations while the gallery is closed, including the annual master of fine arts graduate show.

“I think that the space will be cutting edge and really help unite the community as a whole,” said Mayela Rodriguez, co-chair of the BAM/PFA student committee, in an email. “I also believe that the new location will give students the opportunity to participate more with the City of Berkeley.”

The decision to move the gallery follows a 1997 engineering survey that discovered the building did not meet seismic standards.

According to Rinder, the new facility will be more seismically sound and feature improved film-study areas, a greater diversity of gallery types, an art lab for drop-in art-making and two film theaters, while the current location only has one. In addition, the galleries and film programs will have the same entrance for the first time, which Rinder hopes will inspire “cross-disciplinary excitement.”

No decision has yet been made on what to do with the museum’s current location once it is relocated, said Christine Shaff, director of communications at the campus real estate division.

The museum’s new location will become an attraction of the Addison Street Arts District, a central part of the Downtown Berkeley revitalization effort that includes arts groups and businesses such as the Berkeley Repertory Theater and the Magnes Collexction of Jewish Art and Life.

“The close proximity that BAM/PFA will soon have with BART and Downtown Berkeley will draw in more people from outside of Berkeley, as well as community members and students alike,” Rodriguez said.

Contact Angel Grace Jennings at ajennings@dailycal.org and follow her on Twitter @angeljenningss.

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