de-Lovely

Better late than never, but I wanted to write a little about the opening weekend at the de Young. For a (most likely) more eloquent and informative article on the museum, see the cover story in this month’s Architectural Record.

The new de Young museum in San Francisco opened on Saturday, October 15th and I, being the clever young man that I am, scheduled my recent job interviews for that same week. I was planning on attending the opening sometime around midnight on Saturday, but the night had other plans for me, and I never made that visit. So Sunday morning, I woke up, caffeined up, and walked up to Golden Gate Park and the de Young where, much to my chagrin, there appeared to be a mile-long entrance que. This time however, I was prepared. Armed with iPod and Book – Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, if you’re curious – I settled in for my hour + wait. While in line, the museum and the more business savvy park entertainers paced up and down, creating an exciting atmosphere more akin to a circus than a ticket que. It’s incredible that the museum opening maintained at least an hour wait for twenty four hours. Instant culture. Due in no small part, I’m sure, to the media attention given to the Herzog & de Meuron- designed building.

Although everyone I spoke with in line seemed to be, or at least pretended to be, impressed with the new building, I’ve also heard from many others who find it to be an eyesore in the park. These people couldn’t be more wrong. The building is gorgeous – already texturally rich and certain to only get better with age. As the copper cladding earns its patina, the browns and greens of the museum will complement the surrounding park – especially appropriate considering that an abstract photomontage of the surrounding canopies was used as a template to create the system of perforations in the cladding.

Inside the museum (which is much larger than I expected) I enjoyed the diversity of size and lighting among the galleries. Walking from gallery to gallery, it was a little too easy to get disoriented, but this might be due to the sheer number of people milling about; I’ll have to make a return visit soon to find out for sure. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to make it to the top of the tower but I was told that the fews were just incredible – another reason to return soon.

There’s so much more to say about this new museum, but I feel like the time has passed. This review is a month tardy and drastically abridged from what I originally intended, so for now, I’ll just leave you with some photos.

The coper Cladding – already beginning to patina.
Views from within the building:



A snapshot of the materials used in the landscape surrounding the structure.