Students commemorate BAM/PFA as museum prepares to relocate to Downtown Berkeley

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Kayla Baskevitch/File

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The student committee of the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, or BAM/PFA, invited students to commemorate the museum’s temporary closing and future relocation to Downtown Berkeley with a party Thursday evening.

Public programming in the current gallery building on Bancroft Way ended Dec. 21 with a party, which was open to the general public, hosted by BAM/PFA. The PFA Theater will continue to show films through July of this year. The museum’s new facility at the corner of Oxford and Center streets is under construction and on track to open in 2016, according to Christine Shaff, director of communications at the campus real estate division.

The closing party, called “[email protected] FLASH,” featured 25 collections of student photography, curated by event organizer and BAM/PFA Student Committee member Anna Nolan. Also displayed were postcards with visitors’ memories of the museum, which were collected during BAM/PFA’s closing party in December.

“Essentially, the idea was to say goodbye to BAM/PFA with an exhibition that both reflected students’ lives and the life of the museum itself,” said Emily Szasz, co-chair of the BAM/PFA Student Committee, in an email.

More than 1,000 students joined in the festivities, Szasz said, and they were invited to add their own postcard memories to the exhibition.

The museum celebrated the midpoint of construction of the new building, located at 2155 Center St., in mid-July. The $112 million project is funded through a philanthropy campaign and private sources, according to the BAM/PFA website.

A 1997 engineering survey found that the original building, which opened in 1970 and was designed by Mario Ciampi, did not meet seismic standards. Upgrades to the building completed in 2001 allowed BAM/PFA to remain open to the public in the midst of planning for its new facility, according to Peter Cavagnaro, media relations manager of BAM/PFA.

The campus will renovate the old building to meet seismic standards and will most likely use the building for academic purposes.

Babette cafe, the museum store and the administrative offices will remain open in the interim, Cavagnaro said.

“Right now the most dramatic construction … activity is installation of the exterior, especially the metal panels going over the new PFA space,” Shaff said in an email. “There is also a lot of interior work going on to build new walls and ceilings and install building utilities.”

BAM/PFA will host a few off-site exhibitions, including the works of French-American artist Eric Baudelaire and electro-acoustic musician Tarek Atoui. The BAM/PFA Student Committee will also host artist talks and events on campus “to ensure that students can still feel the presence of the museum without its structure,” Nolan said in an email.

Contact Amy Jiang at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @ajiang_dc.