COLOR IT GONE

On this particular afternoon, the Director is in the driver's seat. Not literally, of course. Literally, he is sitting in a chair at a table on the sixth floor of the Cartier Building on Post Street, high above diamonds that glitter on celadon silk moire, streetside extravagance behind shatterproof glass. Literally, he is at the right elbow of a horn-rimmedly bespectacled man named Richard W. Goss II, who wears a golden family crest ring on the third finger of his right hand and who is president of the board of trustees of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. This is a meeting of the Executive Committee of the museums' trustees, a convocation of the wealthy and artistically inclined, and the trustees are, at present, picking salad out of styrofoam containers with plastic utensils. They are lifting translucently yellow potato chips from a pile in the center of the table. They are drinking Coke, and diet Coke. Perhaps they are thinking that they are here to make up their own minds about the fate of the city's oldest museum, the M.H. de Young Memorial in Golden Gate Park. Perhaps they are mistaken in that.

“I didn't expect to find any site other than Golden Gate Park I would want to think about for more than 30 seconds,” the Director is saying. The light through the windows on either side of him is the color of trout on ice, two days dead. A gray light. Not entirely without radiance. “But I have to admit that some of these sites are kind of exciting,” the Director says. The Director's full name is Harry S. Parker III. Only not many people at San Francisco's city-owned museums call him that. It is as if his actual name is redundant, or excessive, or both.

Instead, at the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park, and at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor overlooking the Pacific on the northwest nose of the city, a diction — a dialect — has developed. He is, simply, “the Director.” Different pronunciations impart different meanings to the pair of words that have come to stand in for Harry S. Parker III's given name. It is like any secret language, ripe with meaning, with things left unsaid, with eyes doing the work usually assigned to the teeth and tongue. It is not that they are afraid of him, exactly. It is just that they want to keep their jobs.

Since Parker arrived in town from Dallas eight years ago, things at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have not been the same. The staff has been cut by 15 percent. The collection has been reorganized, and parts of it are being sold off to buy new art. The unions — guards and some curatorial staff — have found themselves under pressure to cut costs. For the first time, the museums have started to collect 20th-century art, like the $1.9 million Picasso sculpture some people love and others say truly belongs across town at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, an entirely separate, and entirely private, institution. Under the Director's watch, the Legion of Honor has been dismantled and rebuilt. And now that the Legion is due to reopen, on Nov. 11, attention has turned to the de Young, the ramshackle peach stucco structure that has been in Golden Gate Park for 101 years.

Big changes await the de Young. The Director, for one, would like to tear it down. Raze it, bulldoze it, color it gone. Tear it down and, perhaps, rebuild it somewhere else. Another part of the city — maybe down by the water, where it could be like the Sydney Opera House, flashy, internationally known. The Director has been lunching around town, laying the groundwork, so to speak, for this idea. He is, after all, someone who likes to stir things up, keep them moving. Just as he did in Dallas, when he ran that city's Museum of Art. When he built that museum a new building. When he moved the Dallas Museum of Art across that town.

But in this room on this particular afternoon, the fate of the de Young is not just a question of location. It is a question, too, of what the role of a city museum is. Should the de Young, which was founded by a turn-of-the-century newspaper magnate, remain what it has been, a repository of the city's collected history, the splendid and non-splendid alike? A yard sale of a museum, gill-crammed with trivia, trinkets, and treasures? Or should it become what museums increasingly are, an attraction, streamlined, sparkling, catering to the out-of-towner, the art equivalent of Fisherman's Wharf?

Whatever the answer turns out to be, there is this: To touch the de Young, the Director and the board of trustees will need $60 million from the voters of San Francisco.

Which means that you and I, ultimately, are the ones who get to decide.

The room is blue, the color of dusk. To get here I have walked over wood floors, beneath skylights, past scaffolding and workmen, past the Knaack boxes of construction tools lining the walls like wry industrial art. Already, inside this almost-finished Legion, paintings lean against the lushly painted walls, plastic-wrapped against the dust that silts everything, talclike, insistent. I pass a pavilion where sculptures lie scattered on a green-and-white marble floor, bronze leaves on a shiny sidewalk. Farther on, there are religious statues in boxes, their hands tied in front of them like supplicants at the altar of love. And in this room where the walls are dusk-blue, three figures fashioned by the hand of Auguste Rodin hang from a steel crossbeam, bright metal that winks in the weak light. The Three Shades are pressing into each other, lashed together with green sash and white cord, suspended, seductive. The noise of construction — voices, footfalls, hammers on nails — echoes, as if from far away. [page]

It has taken 2 1/2 years and nearly $35 million to gut and reconstruct the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, built in 1924 by a wealthy woman named Alma Spreckels to celebrate the art of the French. Alma — Big Alma — fell in love with France under the tutelage of renowned dancer Loie Fuller, a long-haired lesbian from Illinois who had reinvented herself as the Luminous Fairy of Paris. It was Fuller who introduced Alma to Rodin, who persuaded the intelligent, culturally ambitious socialite to buy the sculptor's work while the artist himself was still alive. Now the Legion, on its hillside overlooking the Pacific, is a beautiful jewel box of a building, with colonnades and a courtyard, its rooms gracious and skylit. Over the last few years, the Legion has been torn apart — its walls opened up, reinforced with steel, sprayed with lightweight concrete, closed up again. The courtyard, once grass, is now granite, and a pyramid of glass rises to let light into new underground galleries, which have expanded the exhibition space available here. When it reopens, on Armistice Day, the Legion will house the Fine Arts Museums' collection of European art and the 100,000-piece collection of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, considered the most comprehensive on the West Coast. And in every way, the destiny of the Legion is intertwined with that of its sister, the much less luscious de Young.

In 1972, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor and the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum merged to become the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Both museums are administered by a single board of trustees. There's an irony in the merger, for the original Spreckels and de Youngs did not get along while they were alive. That's because Adolph Spreckels, Big Alma's husband, shot M.H. de Young in a dispute about articles de Young was running in the Chronicle, which de Young and his brother Charles founded in 1865. “Fortunately, his aim was not good and de Young survived with only a minor wound,” according to the biography Big Alma, by Bernice Scharlach. “Adolph was accused of attempted murder, but the jury found him innocent after he pleaded insanity and self-defense.”

In 1894, a decade after confounding the gunpowder fantasies of Adolph Spreckels, M.H. de Young opened his museum as part of the California Midwinter International Exhibition, a world's fair of the type that were then in fashion. For $57,400, a Fine Arts Building — big, blocky, and pseudo-Egyptian — was constructed in Golden Gate Park. Photographs of the interior of the building show dark walls, white sculptures, and an upper gallery crammed with portraits and landscapes in wildly ornate frames. The whole venture was seen as a sign that San Francisco culture had, at last, arrived.

These days, from the outside, the pale pink M.H. de Young Memorial Museum looks like it has been flayed alive. Steel braces prop it up, 6,000 bolts screwed into the patchy stucco tower that rises streaked and stubby off 10th Avenue in the park. The bracing serves as an external skeleton, bones on the outside of a body. It's stopgap seismic work, meant to keep the building from collapsing in case a shaker comes. And on the inside, the de Young isn't much prettier. Built as eight separate additions to the original Fine Arts fair building, which stood where the museum's staff parking lot now is, the museum has tile and terrazzo floors, gilt work on some ceilings, air conditioning in some spaces, a high-ceilinged central hall in a modern Gothic motif, and a series of back exhibition rooms that lead one into the other, a rabbit-warren kind of ambience that can leave you feeling like you're trapped in the pages of Watership Down.

Recently, Harry S. Parker III gave a slide show on the subject of the Fine Arts Museums to the San Francisco Rotary Club. Just taking the de Young apart, like the Legion, and reassembling it without changing any other single thing inside or outside would cost $60 million, the Director said. For that amount of money, he asked the Rotarians, doesn't it make sense to tear the thing down and start over?

In fact, the Director believes the answer to that question is yes. So do a number of other people, including the board of trustees. Accordingly, the Fine Arts Museums have drawn up some temporary proposals for a new de Young, which they envision being built with public bond money and some $30 million in private donations. The idea that Parker pitched to the Rotarians was to raze the de Young, sink a parking garage into Golden Gate Park, cut tunnels beneath the park roads leading in from Fulton, and then rebuild a new museum on top of all of it. But predictably, not everyone likes that idea. Putting a garage in Golden Gate Park is a concept that doesn't float all boats. And after a public hearing, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco went back, so to speak, to the drawing board.

The Director has something to say. He's standing at a microphone, in a blue suit, on a small set of stairs on one side of the big central gallery at the de Young, a high-ceilinged space that looks like a dining hall at an Ivy League college, particularly now, with round tables of rich people applying forks to food.

“I hate to interrupt your lunch,” the Director announces. Lunch, on the occasion of this annual luncheon for people who have donated big gifts to the Fine Arts Museums, is a crusted baked salmon with juicy shredded vegetables. As it happens, the color of the fish matches the stucco outside, which is probably coincidental, but might not be. In baskets on each table are little fried spiced pita crisps — chips masquerading as bread. There's white wine, and water. Cheesecake will follow. “But we would like to have enough time to introduce our art donors,” the Director says. “We're so proud of you being here, of what you've done individually and collectively.” [page]

A museum, you see, is more than just a building. More than just walls, renovated or reconstructed as they might be. There's Art to consider, too, the small matter of what hangs on those walls. Harry S. Parker III doesn't pause in his trip through the language of romance to find the words to express his feelings on the subject. “It is in the permanent collection of the institution,” the Director says, “that we all find our elemental raison d'etre.”

The only problem is this: one man's raison is another's sour grape.
At the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, a new collections policy is in place. Under Parker's direction, the museums have begun to aggressively sell off some parts of the their holdings in order to make room, and money, for new art. In addition, the museums are collecting 20th-century art in all disciplines. Taken together, this selling and buying of art is as important for the de Young as whether its building should be torn down and rebuilt across town or not. And just as controversial.

When M.H. de Young founded his museum, it earned the name “The City's Attic.” There was sculpture, to be sure, including a white, bare-buttocked marble statue de Young himself donated, the figure of Delilah clutching what looks to be a carpet below her saucy stone breasts. But there were Native American skulls, too, and rocks from foreign lands, and desks and candlesticks and daguerreotypes and ankle bracelets. And for nearly 40 years, until the incumbency of Walter Heil in the director's seat, the de Young was an exuberant mishmash — snakes preserved in alcohol, Imogen Cunningham photographs — of what was considered culturally interesting on the West Coast.

Heil, a German scholar, took the museum in hand and declared that the de Young was henceforth to be dedicated to more serious pursuits — namely, displays of art through the ages, from ancient stone reliefs to American portraiture. As the museums built up their collection, some strengths emerged: the Legion's Rodins, of course, and a host of Dutch and Flemish 17th-century religious paintings, and the 137-painting bequest by Blanchette and John D. Rockefeller 3rd, which makes the de Young the home of the best historic American art collection on the West Coast.

Now the Legion and the de Young have some 170,000 objects between them, with 4,000 to 5,000 on display at any one time, head curator Steven Nash says. Yet as recently as 1986, which was the year before the current director arrived in town, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco weren't collecting modern art. After all, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, across town, was already doing that. By 1993, however, things had changed.

In 1993, the Fine Arts Museums issued a revision of their Collection Development Department plan, heralding “a key turning point” in the Fine Arts' history. The new guidelines emphasized, among other things, an “aggressive deaccessioning policy,” meaning that the Legion and the de Young were going to be getting rid of stuff. And indeed, in recent years, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco have auctioned off thousands of items — things ranging from Tahitian flags to oil paintings to vases to knives. In one sale of paintings alone, in 1991, the museums received close to $700,000.

Now, as anyone who has ever emptied out an attic can tell you, there are pitfalls to the practice of cleaning house. Those old baseball cards? The shelf of Barbie dolls in their original packaging? That metal lunch box with Spiderman on it?

Every museum in the country except for the National Gallery in Washington, D.C., deaccessions. “It's virtually impossible — what you're doing is substituting your taste for someone else's taste,” says Charles Moffett, director of the Phillips Collection in Washington and a former curator for the Fine Arts Museums. “Sooner or later they'll make a mistake.”

Yet if deaccessioning is a little bit like riding bareback, there are benefits to it as well. As a way of raising money, deaccessioning allows museums to try to trade up, artwise. And that's where the deaccessioning policy dovetails with Parker's policy departure: the decision to buy modern art.

Steven Nash, the head curator of the Fine Arts Museums, has worked with Harry Parker since 1980, in Dallas and now in San Francisco. The way Nash explains it, the decision to buy modern art is something that is almost a civic obligation at the museums. “We are a historic museum, and the 20th century is about to become history,” Nash says. “It seems incumbent upon us to extend that timeline.” And just how seriously the new mandate is taken at the Fine Arts Museums is evidenced — as these things often are — by the number of times it is referred to in official documents.

In the revised Collection Development Policy of 1993, for example, the modern-art decision is singled out: “One major area of emerging emphasis that warrants special notice because it cuts across departments and represents a new departure for the institution is that of modern art.” And again, in February of this year, in a draft Vision Statement planned specifically for the de Young, which announces: “Through an aggressive acquisition effort, the Museum intends to improve its holdings, and pursue a new emphasis on 20th Century art. By coupling art of the ages with the work of living artists, the Museum strives to present a more complete and vital understanding of artistic achievement.”

That's the goal. The reality, however, is that when there are limited resources, a decision to collect modern art by definition involves decisions to not collect other things. And at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which collect and display art from Africa, the Americas, Europe, and the Ancients, as well as prints, drawings, and textiles, the emphasis on modern art has made some people mad. [page]

Consider, for example, the plan to install a huge metal sculpture by living artist Richard Serra at the remodeled California Palace of the Legion of Honor. The board of trustees backed down after the public complained that rusting metal and French architecture mix as well as soap and soup. But in the wake of that controversy, the trustees passed a resolution reaffirming the commitment to collect modern art. The paper was promulgated to the staff of the museum, and if it has made them beg to have their names kept secret, it hasn't actually shut them up. It's not that they don't like modern art. They just don't think the Fine Arts Museums should go head to head with the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the fancy private museum across town.

“What if the Modern started buying 1870s French Impressionist paintings? The point is, there must be some division,” one staff member says. “You need vast amounts of money, and we don't have it.”

“You're not going have your own identity, you're not going to have people follow you if you focus on contemporary art as it is now defined,” a former staff member says. “Our mission isn't going to make it where the light is. It's too expensive, and everyone has already lined up their loyalties.”

Jack Lane, director of the SFMOMA, doesn't see it that way.
“We play different parts,” Lane says. “I think the Fine Arts Museums have many centuries and many different cultures to address in their various curatorial departments, in their collections and exhibitions, and the Museum of Modern Art is focused on the art of this century and what's to come.”

But not everyone agrees.
“Harry Parker has let them pre-empt us because when our museum walked into contemporary art and said, 'We're going to do it,' we gave our power to the Modern,” the former staff member says. “He went to play ball in their ballpark and they're the home team.”

The thing is, Harry S. Parker III is not afraid. Not, at least, in the dining room at the Campton Place Hotel, where the tables at 8:30 in the morning are covered with white cloths, where coffee is poured out of silver pots, where it is possible to have fresh blackberries with your rolled grain cereal and skim milk, their juice bleeding like blood into your mouth.

“I think what has been unusual about my career is that I've never presented myself as an art expert,” Parker is saying. “I think it's probably made me less sympathetic to the curatorial point of view than some curators would like.”

Actually, what some staff members at the Fine Arts Museums complain about is slightly different than that. It's not that their director isn't sympathetic to the curatorial point of view, they say; it's that he isn't sympathetic at all.

In the eight years that Parker has run the Fine Arts museums, he has cut the number of staff from 185 to 157, a reduction of 15 percent. During that same time, he has taken on the unions at the museums, insisting on lower pay for some of the guards and hiring temporary workers on a more or less full-time basis, the union members say. But if that has gained him friends among the financially minded, it has cost him the good will of some of his staff.

“The trouble around here is we're all abused and it's a problem and that's why some people have slipped away,” a staff member says. “Most people here come to work with their heads down.”

“If it were up to him he would contract out everything,” a union member says. “He doesn't like unions, he doesn't like people, the word 'thank you' is not in his vocabulary.”

“Since Harry came, we've all been doing two jobs,” jokes Pamela Forbes, editor of Triptych, the museums' magazine, and press contact person, when I call to ask her for the staffing statistics.

“That's his style. He keeps things jumping,” says Ted Greenberg, museum registrar, whose computer screensaver scrolls the words “I QUIT!” as he talks. “We were warned.”

At the Campton Place Hotel, Parker doesn't flinch.
“The number of staff has actually declined, which is necessary for economic survival,” he says, eating his cereal slowly, not so much methodically as precisely. “The '80s were a period of real affluence for museums, and the staff grew a lot.”

“We had an awkward, difficult time when we tried to argue that the civil service guards could be replaced by contract guards,” he continues. “One, it's a union town, and two, the case can be made when you make these positions career positions you attract and keep a higher-quality, better-trained person.”

But, he says, “what I've pushed for and what the union has embraced in some degree is more flexibility.”

By the time that Parker was 23, he was on staff at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City, as vice director for education. He'd grown up outside of Boston, he'd been to Harvard, he'd gotten his master's in art history from New York University. For the next five years, he was a player at the biggest, most prestigious museum this country is ever likely to spawn. “Which was unusual,” he says, “but only possible because that was the '60s.”

At the Met, Parker says, he learned some key ideas about how to present art to the public — a discipline called, in the insulated world of museums, “education.”

“I can have a very profound engagement with a work of art and I have found in my life you can encourage and lead people to very in-depth experiences of works of art by what you tell them, what color the walls are, where the light's coming from,” he says. [page]

Even, perhaps, what the building itself looks like.
Parker was 28 years old when he became the director of the Dallas Museum of Art. To say that he left his mark on the map in that Texas town wouldn't be overstating things, even by Lone Star standards, because now the Dallas Museum of Art is in a different location than it used to be. When Parker became director, the museum was a set of eight little art deco structures in an out-of-the-way section of the city. By the time he left, the Dallas Museum of Art was in a spanking-new building downtown, in a designated culture district roped off for art appreciators and the like.

Architect Edward Larabee Barnes designed the new Dallas museum; Barnes also worked on the Legion renovation and is on board the de Young project.

But Parker says he wasn't banking on his museum construction background when he came to San Francisco, in 1987. “In reality, when I came I had no idea our facilities were going to be a problem,” he says. “Actually, what sort of intrigued me about San Francisco was that the buildings were set. I really was not that eager to get into another building program. It requires an all-out community effort to do something as major as rebuilding these institutions.”

Of course, to hear Parker talk about it he's just the engineer on a train that's already left the station.

“From my perspective at least, you don't really shape it. I'm not saying you don't have ideas or values, but you also see which way the parade is going and you jump in front of it,” Parker says.

Never mind that he's the first Fine Arts Museums director to also hold the post of chief executive officer of the Corporation of Fine Arts Museums, which gives him effective control over the money of the institutions.

Or that others, like former Fine Arts Museums curator Moffett, say that Parker is the one who's driving this train.

“He's the director, he's the driving force of the Fine Arts Museums,” says Moffett. “Harry could have put his feet up and said, 'I like it the way it is.' He took on a very difficult problem, and it looks to me like he's solving it.”

“One of the real pleasures of working with Harry,” head curator Nash says, “is that he's such an idea person. He really is always thinking, always dreaming, never complacent about the present, always interested in something better.”

Perhaps, in a way, that's because Parker doesn't see conflict where some other members of his staff do.

“What I'm despondent about, what I'm really unhappy about, is there's a great belief that the Legion is simply a launching pad for the de Young,” one staff member says. “This particular Legion is beautiful, it's marvelous, it's a great asset to the city. But anybody who tells you it hasn't come at a cost is lying.”

Well, the Director will tell you that.
“In my experience,” he says, “when the building is improved the collection is also improved, and the endowment is improved. The reality is they pretty much all do work together. Witness the Modern.”

Ah, the Modern. These days, it is impossible not to know that the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has a flashy new Mario Botta-designed brickish building on Third Street. People line up on the sidewalk to get inside its shiny steel-and-glass doors. They sit, wearing their fashionable dark clothes, at the brushed-steel tables of the sidewalk cafe, their legs folded around each other like underwater weeds. Somehow, when the subject is art in San Francisco, the talk turns to SFMOMA — the new building, the crowds, the buzz. If envy weren't one of the seven deadliest, it might be tempting to chalk all the talk up to that.

“It certainly has added another institution of considerable scale to the cultural landscape,” Jack Lane, the director, says, modestly. “I think it's changed the situation in the Bay Area.”

Plus, there have been all those presents.
“I think the hope of the trustee leadership and myself was that the building would stimulate gifts to the collection, and it has done so to a degree that we wouldn't have dreamed,” Lane says. Among the gifts: a group of sculptures by Richard Serra, the artist whose work was to have been installed at the California Palace of the Legion of Honor.

To erect the new building, Lane and his board of trustees raised $90 million from private donors. Indeed, raising money is a primary preoccupation, if not the primary occupation, of museum people.

“I always tell people I buy two pairs of pants with my suits because I wear out the knees begging,” says Robert Flynn Johnson, curator of the Achenbach Collection of prints and drawings at the Fine Arts Museums. “The taxpayers take the museums for granted.”

Just over one-quarter of the 1995-96 operating budget at the Fine Arts Museums came from the city of San Francisco. The money that the city gives the museums comes out of the Hotel Tax, not out of the General Fund, which means that it is actually based on tourist revenues rather than homeowner taxes. This year, San Francisco gave $4,241,144 to the museums. The city money goes to pay for guards and maintenance. The rest of the museums' $15,566,240 annual budget comes from private sources — from income on the $44 million endowment, from bequests, from membership fees. The museums spend the money on salaries, mainly, and exhibitions.

Perhaps it seems like a lot of money, curator Johnson says, but museums in general don't have it so easy these days. “What's happened, bottom line, is that the vast majority of the public could not give a damn what we show,” he says. “Even if you have a Monet show you'd have to have Elton John cut the ribbon for people to show up.” [page]

Unless, that is, you build a building so fabulous that it almost doesn't matter what kind of art you have inside.

At the meeting where Harry Parker is in the driver's seat — in the room where the windows with their gray-trout light are turning the tabletop potato chips into panes of stained glass — a consultant named Paul Sedway has handed out oatmeal-colored paper booklets, bound and printed. The booklets — the result of the city's expedition to the drawing board after public objections to the idea of planting a garage beneath Golden Gate Park — are thick, laden with maps, lists, charts, words. The words are technical, relating to physical space. The words spell out, on page after page, all of the different places in San Francisco that the de Young, the city's oldest museum, the museum that has been in the park for 101 years, could relocate to. The possibilities, it seems, are extensive: There's the lot opposite the Yerba Buena Center, just down from SFMOMA. There's the combination of Piers 27 and 29, just down from Fisherman's Wharf, which is Parker's favorite option. There's the old Army complex at Fort Mason. There's a tract of land near the Embarcadero. In a way, though, despite their site-specificity, the words don't talk about what's really at stake.

But that's OK, in a way, because Harry Parker is talking about it. Bilingually, even.

“What this means to me,” the Director is saying, “is this period of discussion and thinking about the site must also involve a discussion of the mission of the institution.”

“If you put the de Young on the piers, like the Sydney Opera House, you would become a more regional center,” the Director says. “The de Young would become more of an exhibit site, less of a museum. That would be a change of mission for the de Young, to become an attraction.”

And a change of mission begs a question, Parker says: “Do we expect the permanent collection to be the raison d'├ętre? Or education?”

In other words, should the museum be a repository? Or an attraction?
As it happens, the new Vision Statement for the de Young — the same one that affirms its dedication to collecting modern art — contains this phrase: “The de Young Museum plays a central role in making the San Francisco Bay Area a magnet for world-wide tourism.”

Parker had that Vision Statement prepared, he tells the trustees. And, he says, “I really think this time around the staff will have to come to grips with the Vision Statement.”

After all, the members of the Executive Committee of the museums' board of trustees already have.

“The de Young museum lends itself frankly more towards traveling exhibitions than does the Legion of Honor,” Richard W. Goss II says.

“I do think we have to go forward with some further study,” says Robert J. Bransten, a trustee who is also chairman of the museums' Acquisitions Committee.

“No question,” Goss says.
And as the de Young trustees talk about taking their museum out of Golden Gate Park, there's only one voice in dissent. It belongs to trustee Frankie Jacobs Gillette, who says:

“If we move downtown with all that competition, maybe everybody loses, I don't know. Maybe everybody wins.”

That's the $60 million question facing the de Young. And next autumn, at the voting booth, you and I will decide how it is answered.

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