Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

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Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
BAMPFA entrance.jpg
The new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive opened in 2016.
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is located in Oakland, California
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
Location within Oakland, California
Location2155 Center St, Berkeley, CA 94720
Coordinates37°52′07″N 122°15′21″W / 37.86874°N 122.25582°W / 37.86874; -122.25582
Typeart museum, film archive
DirectorLawrence Rinder[1]

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA) are a combined art museum and repertory movie theater and archive, associated with the University of California, Berkeley. The director is Lawrence Rinder, who was appointed in 2008.[1] The museum is a member of the North American Reciprocal Museums program.



BAMPFA's major retrospective in March 2019 of the work of Hans Hofmann, who was instrumental in the creation of the museum. Photo by Steven Saylor.

The University of California art collection began with Flight into Egypt, a 16th-century oil on wood panel by the School of Joachim Patinir gifted to the University by San Francisco banker and financier François Louis Alfred Pioche in 1870.[2][3] The museum was founded in 1963 after a donation was made to the university from artist and teacher Hans Hofmann of 45 paintings[4] plus $250,000. A competition to design the building was announced in 1964, and the museum opened in 1970.[5]

The collection holds more than 19,000 works of art, including Ming and Qing dynasty Chinese paintings, Mughal dynasty Indian miniature painting, Baroque painting, old master prints and drawings, early American painting, 19th and 20th century photography, Conceptual art, and international contemporary art.

The museum has featured works by Albert Bierstadt, Jonathan Borofsky, Joan Brown, Robert Colescott, Jay DeFeo, Helen Frankenthaler, Paul Gauguin, Juan Gris, Ant Farm, Howard Fried, Paul Kos, Robert Mapplethorpe, Knox Martin, Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Sebastião Salgado.[6] The museum also features The MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art.[7]

In 2009, the museum acquired (as a gift from the artist) the Abu Ghraib Series[8] of 56 painting and drawings by Fernando Botero.[9] Selections from the series are regularly included in the museum's revolving Art for Human Rights exhibitions.[10]

In 2014, the museum acquired San Francisco collector and dealer Steven Leiber's collection of Conceptual art and art materials, as well as his library of reference and artists' books related to Conceptualism and the Fluxus movement. According to The New York Times, "with the acquisition…the museum and film archive will become one of the world’s most important centers for the study of Conceptual art."[11]


The Pacific Film Archive (PFA), founded by Sheldon Renan,[12] began screening films in 1966 and specializes in international cinema. The archive houses 16,000 films and videos, including the largest collection of Japanese films outside of Japan.[13] The PFA also includes a library[14] which includes an online database of documentation associated with the films.[15]


Interior of the former (seismically unsafe) Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive building designed by Mario Ciampi.

The former Berkeley Art Museum building was built in 1970 and designed by Mario Ciampi.[5] The concrete Brutalist building was deemed seismically unsafe in 1997, and iron braces were added in 2001 to improve safety. In 1999, the Pacific Film Archive moved to a temporary building across the street.[16]

Sign for the new Berkeley Art Museum (detail), photo by Steven Saylor

In 2008, BAMPFA unveiled plans for a new visual arts center, to be designed by the Japanese architect Toyo Ito and located in downtown Berkeley, across the street from UC Berkeley's main entrance.[17][18][19] In 2009 those plans were cancelled. Citing the weak economy and trouble raising necessary funds, BAMPFA decided to retrofit and enlarge (rather than demolish) the former University of California Press printing plant at that site, a 1939 Art Deco building on the California Register of Historic Resources and qualified to be on the National Register of Historic Places.[16][20][21]

In 2011, BAMPFA presented the schematic design for the $100 million transformation of the former printing plant into its new home, designed by the New York firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro.[22] Located at 2120 Oxford Street in downtown Berkeley, the building combines the existing concrete structure with a new metal-clad, skylighted addition that includes several galleries, a 232-seat theater, a store and a learning center.[22] Construction began in 2013.[23] The museum re-opened to the public on January 31, 2016.[24]

The old Mario Ciampi building is being "reimagined" and is projected to reopen in 2021 as Woo Hon Fai Hall, home to the new Bakar BioEnginuity Hub.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Lawrence Rinder Appointed Director of BAM/PFA". April 28, 2008. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved September 12, 2009.
  2. ^ "Encyclopedia of San Francisco". July 26, 2011.
  3. ^ Flight into Egypt, BAM Collection item 1
  4. ^ "Art Collection – CollectionSpace".
  5. ^ a b BAM/PFA Mission & History
  6. ^ "Exhibition History – BAMPFA".
  7. ^ "Matrix Exhibitions – BAMPFA".
  8. ^ "Art Collection – CollectionSpace".
  9. ^ Lucinda Barnes, "Fernando Botero: The Abu Ghraib Series," September 23, 2009-February 7, 2010 exhibition notes.
  10. ^ "Permanent Accusation: Art for Human Rights".
  11. ^ Randy Kennedy (December 18, 2014), A Permanent Home for a Collection of Art Ephemera The New York Times.
  12. ^ Amazonas, Lee (Spring 2004). "Guerrilla Cinematheque Comes of Age: The Pacific Film Archive" (PDF). Chronicle of the University of California: 147–159.
  13. ^ The 35 Best College Art Museums
  14. ^ "Film Library & Study Center – BAMPFA".
  15. ^ "Search Film, Video, and Book Catalogs – BAMPFA".
  16. ^ a b Modenessi, Jennifer (January 29, 2010). "UC Printing Plant may become new home of Berkeley Art Museum". Contra Costa Times. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  17. ^ Kino, Carol (March 28, 2007). "On College Campuses, A Crop of Galleries". The New York Times.
  18. ^ DelVecchio, Rick (September 30, 2006). "Tokyo architect to design Cal's new museum". San Francisco Chronicle.
  19. ^ Ouroussoff, Nicolai (November 24, 2008). "A Berkeley Museum Wrapped in Honeycomb". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Lee, Lydia (January 26, 2010). "Berkeley's Moderne Art Museum". The Architect's Newspaper. Archived from the original on January 29, 2010. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  21. ^ Bhattacharjee, Riya (January 28, 2010). "University Eyes Old UC Printing Plant for New Art Museum". Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  22. ^ a b Pogrebin, Robin (September 16, 2011). "Berkeley Museum Unveils New Design". The New York Times.
  23. ^ Rosario, Gladys (February 13, 2013), "Construction begins on UC Berkeley Art Museum", Daily Californian
  24. ^ "Community Day – BAMPFA".

External links[edit]