Plans Are Under Way For New Art Museum

Photo: Construction at the site of the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, on the corner of Oxford and Center streets, will begin once an additional $46 million is raised.
Evan Walbridge/Staff
Construction at the site of the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, on the corner of Oxford and Center streets, will begin once an additional $46 million is raised.

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Preliminary plans for the new Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive are under way following a $5.6 million spending authorization by the UC Board of Regents in May, but the project cannot commence until an additional $46 million is raised.

The museum, deemed seismically unfit in 1999, is in the initial phases of a redesign project with construction hopefully beginning in the summer and slated to be complete in 2014, according to museum director Lawrence Rinder. Project costs are expected to total $96 million - significantly less than those of a more ambitious project scrapped in 2008 due to economic considerations.

Due to the museum's status as a nonacademic campus unit, all funding must be gleaned from private sources, said Ariane Bicho, communications director at the museum.

In May, however, UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor Frank Yeary pledged $20 million in campus funds toward the reconstruction effort - an amount that would be awarded in the event that insufficient funds are raised from private donors.

"(That) is what I'm trying to do all the time - raise more money," said Rinder.

Yeary serves on an advisory board for The Daily Californian that does not have control over editorial content.

The museum is in the midst of a funding campaign and has gathered about $50 million so far, Bicho said.

Museum officials have no timeline for their funding goals, Rinder said.

The building cost for the new museum - including design and construction - is $90 million. The remaining $6 million will be used to move art pieces to the new museum and to establish an endowment.

Once museum plans are finalized, the regents must approve its financing.

"The regents are well aware of the policies and practices of the institution, which would preclude the use of student registration fees or state allocations," said UC Berkeley spokesperson Dan Mogulof.

If the museum fails to raise enough money from private donors, the $20 million would come from a mixture of unrestricted funds composed of non-state, non-educational fee funds such as unrestricted gifts and income - private money donated to UC Berkeley but not earmarked for a specific purpose and the interest garnered from those funds - non-educational sales and services and money pulled from auxiliary programs such as Residential and Student Service Programs.

The money would not be awarded in a lump sum, Mogulof added, but rather would be borrowed by the campus in a loan paid off over a 40-year period.

Despite concerns about spending on capital projects while student fees continue to rise, Rinder said he believes the museum reconstruction is necessary.

"The benefits of art are inestimable - they're extraordinary!" he said. "Art helps us to understand who we are and who other people are. The museum is not ancillary, but central to the university's learning goals.


Contact Noor Al-Samarrai at [email protected]

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