UC Berkeley’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology to open renovated gallery in spring

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UC Berkeley’s Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology expects to open a renovated gallery in Kroeber Hall in spring 2017.

In August, museum staff, along with UC Berkeley students and volunteers, finished moving the museum’s collections to its storage facilities located in Kroeber Hall and at Richmond Field Station, which will store the artifacts not currently on display at the museum. Now, they are renovating a 5,200-square-foot gallery on the south end of Kroeber Hall, the bulk of which will be completed in early November, according to Suzanne Pierce, the deputy director of the museum.

“The gallery will have spaces for rotating exhibits that explore contemporary issues using our collections,” Pierce said. “The first exhibit will focus on the art and science of craftsmanship and will feature stories about the people who made objects in the collections.”

According to the museum’s website, the gallery will contain a 700-square-foot multi-purpose learning center that will have virtual reality kiosks to showcase UC Berkeley research and the museum’s collection of 3.8 million objects. The Koret Foundation awarded the museum a matching challenge grant of $300,000 in August to support the renovation of the Gallery Learning Center, according to a press release from the Hearst Museum.

Pierce said in an email that the renovation is currently on budget, adding that the original budget of about $2 million has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, along with donations from museum members, alumni and students.

According to Pierce, because Kroeber Hall was built in the late 1950s, it needed to be updated to meet the campus’s current needs. The museum began its renovations in June 2012 after undertaking a project to reorganize its inventory.

The Kroeber Hall storage facility now houses the osteological and California collections, as well as collections used for teaching and research purposes. At 23,000 square feet, the facility also contains an 1,850-square-foot conservation lab to preserve the museum’s collections, two project rooms and a consultation area.

The museum’s Richmond Field Station facility is 24,000 square feet and now houses the museum’s textiles and foreign collections — including a 10,000-square-foot space that contains 10,000 California baskets.

“Because North American collections were part of this effort, the Hearst Museum notified approximately 300 Native American descendant communities and invited their logistical, spiritual, and ceremonial involvement,” Pierce said in an email. “The Museum staff was pleased that representatives of several tribes accepted the Museum’s invitation to participate in the move, in the manner of their choosing.”

According to Pierce, the next phase includes renovations to the museum’s patio and building the gallery furniture, which will occur during the winter and early spring.

Contact Aleah Jennings-Newhouse at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ajn_dc.