Note: I'm currently "on the road" on my California Museumpalooza, exploring museums and interesting places in San Francisco and Los Angeles! You can follow along on one of our social media channels.
I have waited for years to visit your institution. I've loved it from afar ever since I was responsible for posting art-related baseball smack talk in the infamous #MuseumRangers vs. #MuseumGiants Twitter showdown, as the social media coordinator behind one of the Dallas-Fort Worth museums supporting the Texas Rangers in the 2010 World Series against the San Francisco Giants.
This, I said to myself at the time, is what museum engagement should be.
I postponed making a trip to San Francisco until your new building was finished, and in the meantime, I watched your institution evolve through your assorted social media accounts. What you were able to do with your "On the Go" initiative, educating your fans online about your work and your collection, all without an actual building to showcase it in, was seriously impressive.
The hype was real. The excitement was high. And I was in San Francisco less than 24 hours before I was in your galleries.
I am overjoyed to say that all the patience and waiting was more than worth it. SFMoMA, you are everything I hoped you would be, and more.
Your collection – which is outstanding, in every sense of the word – is beautifully installed. It fits every nook and cranny of its new home like a hand inside a glove, like the collection and the building were made for each other (which I assume was the case.) There are no jarring transitions between artists or periods, no space that isn't being used to its best potential – everything flows seamlessly from one gallery to the next, everything carefully presented in the context of the works before it.
The amount of wall text in your galleries is informative without being overbearing. Some works are given more space to breathe, to contemplate in and of themselves, while other works are purposefully and deliberately installed closer together for easy compare/contrast, each bringing out the best in the others.
The effect is subtle, it's well executed, and your curatorial staff deserves a high-five for how well they pulled it off.
Also, SFMoMA – all the things you're doing to attract the diversity in age, genders, nationalities, races and sexual orientations that I saw in your galleries today, both among your patrons and represented on your walls – is nothing short of extraordinary.
It is safe to say that I've never seen so many young people happily crowded into a modern art museum at 7:30 on a Thursday night, just to look at and learn about the art. It is genuinely exciting and inspiring to see. You've made museums cool again, for all ages, and there is literally something for everybody in all of your vast offerings.
Taken together, all that you've done and continue to do warms my little museum-nerd heart, and for that, I'm filled with gratitude.
I've been to a lot of museums – A LOT of museums – and SFMoMA, you hands down, unequivocally take the cake.
You should be incredibly proud of everything you've accomplished as an institution, because even after (finally) visiting in person, my assessment from all those years ago still holds true:
You're absolutely everything that a museum should be.
Consider this letter the virtual equivalent of me giving your organization a giant hug. Thank you guys for being so damn awesome, and keep up the good work. I can't wait to see what you're going to do next.