Asian Art Museum of San Francisco Embarks on $25 Million Expansion

Architecture firm wHY is overseeing the project.

A rendering of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco's planned expansion.
Photo: courtesy wHY.

The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco is planning a massive expansion and renovation.

The 12,000-square-foot pavilion will include 9,000 square feet of exhibition space and will improve the state of the current facilities, which the museum states are “disjointed and not well suited for showing large-scale works of art or contemporary art requiring complex presentation techniques.”

The $25-million cost will be underwritten mostly by donations from board members, according to the press release, who have raised more than $50 million over the last two years. (It is worth noting that board chair Akiko Yamazaki is married to Yahoo! cofounder Jerry Yang, while president Timothy F. Kahn is CEO of Dreyer’s Ice Cream, which is a subsidiary of Nestlé, the transnational food and beverage company.)


The current view of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco from Hyde Street.
Photo: courtesy Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

The museum has tapped Thai-born Kulapat Yantrasast’s firm, wHY, of Los Angeles and New York. Founded in 2004, the firm will also be responsible for the new Speed Art Museum in Louisville, Kentucky, and the Marciano Art Foundation in LA.

Work will begin in 2017, and will also include a face-lift for classrooms that host educational programs for 50,000 Bay Area school children.

The museum, founded in 1966 in a building in Golden Gate Park that it shared with the de Young Museum, moved thirteen years ago to its own building in San Francisco’s Civic Center. Its collection numbers some 18,000 objects representing 6,000 years of artwork, including highlights such as Chinese, Japanese, Cambodian and Indian sculpture, and Korean stoneware.

In an effort to step up its contemporary art programming, the museum recently hired curator Karin G. Oen.

“We are a hub for art, education, culture and community,” said director Jay Xu in a press release. “As we envision our next fifty years, we see powerful relevancy in fostering human understanding and cultural appreciation by sharing art and cultural experiences.”

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