Spotlight: Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Michael Wan/File

One of the most recognizable places on campus, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, located on the corner of Center and Oxford streets in Downtown Berkeley, is definitely worth a visit for all students. It’s great for a date or an afternoon with friends, and it’s a prime place to take parents or out-of-town visitors.

Pro tip: The museum’s Babette Cafe, located on the top floor of the museum, is an extremely underrated study spot.

The museum reopened in 2016 after a major renovation and move, and it features a quickly rotating spread of exhibits and film screenings. Open Wednesday through Sunday, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, or BAMPFA, is also free to all UC Berkeley students with a quick show of your Cal ID. Below are some of the current exhibits to explore, as well as upcoming ones to keep in mind for the rest of the semester:

Hippie Modernism: The Struggle for Utopia

“Hippie Modernism” is a large-scale exploration of the innovations and ins and out of the counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The exhibit as a whole is extremely multidisciplinary, with sculpture, multimedia work and even two “immersive environments” where you can kick back in a bean bag or hammock to take in the art with a new perspective.

This exhibit features works from many Bay Area artists and even has Berkeley connections. The piece “Community Memory,” for example, used to be located at Leopold’s Records on Durant Avenue in the 1960s.

The exhibit is on display until May 21; check out the Daily Cal’s review of the exhibit here.

Buddhist Art from the Roof of the World

Located on the bottom floor of the BAMPFA, this exhibit features Buddhist artwork, including textiles, sculpture and metalwork, from as early as the third century. It’s a great intersection of history and truly stunning art.

The exhibit is on display until May 7.

Art Wall: Lawrence Weiner

The art wall is an iconic place in the BAMPFA; it features a different commissioned piece every couple of months, encompassing a huge white wall near the entrance of the museum. This rotation of large-scale works means there’s always something new to check out, and the bleacher-like wooden steps are a great place to hang out and take in the artwork and atmosphere.

This piece will be on display until October 1.

Erica Deeman: Silhouettes

Deeman’s exhibit is a breathtaking wallscape of 30 individual silhouettes of women from the African diaspora. The portraits explore femininity, identity and the journey of the artist, who comes from a British-Jamaican background.

This exhibit runs until June 11; check out the Daily Cal’s review here.

Michael Armitage/MATRIX 263

This exhibition, located in an intimate space aside from the main gallery, explores gender and sexuality through multiple paintings by the Kenya-and-London-based artist. Using oil paint on Lubugo bark cloth, a sacred and ceremonial fabric originating in Uganda, these works are visceral and dynamic.

The exhibit is only on display until April 2, so check it out soon!

Slow Reading/Slow Seeing

Slow Reading/Slow Seeing is a collaboration between the museum and a UC Berkeley English class taught by English professor Lyn Hejinian, in which students, over the course of the semester, created written works in tandem with their chosen art pieces. The exhibit is a combination of those chosen pieces and poems the students wrote, creating a fascinating combination of written and visual work. The exhibit part of what will be an ongoing annual project between campus courses and BAMPFA, reflecting a very unique opportunity for UC Berkeley students to participate in the work of creating an exhibit. It’s really exciting to see other students’ work in such an established space and engaging with the art community at large.

This exhibit is on view until April 30.

Film Screenings

Don’t miss out on the “PFA” part of BAMPFA; the museum is home to a wealth of cinematic gems, and it frequently screens documentaries, dramas and works connected to current exhibits. Currently playing are selections from the African Film Festival, and be sure to catch “Love Affair with the Brain: The Life and Science of Dr. Marian Diamond,” which looks at the life and work of the pioneering titular UC Berkeley neuroscientist. Find the full event calendar here, with film screenings, workshops and readings.

All throughout the rest of the semester, BAMPFA has a truly varied spread of exhibits to continue to peruse. Coming up later this spring is the 60th San Francisco International Art Festival, exhibitions from members from Berkeley’s MFA program and the exhibit “AMERICA AMERICA: Art for Human Rights,” which will explore histories of human rights through American art. Keep up on all the new, cool happenings here.

Camryn Bell is an assistant night editor. Contact Camryn Bell at [email protected].