Downtown Art: Modern Art During the SFMOMA Expansion

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With one weekend left before closure, the clock is ticking to see the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) before it shuts its doors for expansion. During the final days — Friday, May 30 through Sunday, June 2, 2013 — the museum admission will be free to everyone, with a special Countdown Celebration including 24-hour gallery access, rooftop party with live music, a day for families and related festivities.

But don’t worry if you miss out, the museum will be back and bigger than ever in 2016 and SFMOMA exhibits will be showing throughout the Bay Area. To fill the void downtown that it will leave, there are many galleries and museums to quench that modern and contemporary art desire, and with Blue Bottle Coffee nearby it is almost like the SFMOMA never left.

(SFMOMA)San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
(151 Third Street)
Throughout the approximately 2½ years that the SFMOMA will be closed for expansion, from June of 2013 to 2016, the exhibitions will be brought from behind the walls and into the Bay Area community. Instead of being put into storage, exhibitions will be shown at partner museums and galleries as well as outdoor installations, such as Mark di Suvero’s sculptures already in place at Crissy Field. When the expansion is done the museum will triple in size to invite more work from Bay Area artists and beyond.

To keep up with the SFMOMA “On the Go” exhibitions and events visit:

Blue Bottle Coffee
(66 Mint St., Mint Plaza)
Individually brewed drip coffee at Blue Bottle’s Mint Plaza location is only a stone's throw away from the SFMOMA rooftop, which will be temporarily closed during renovation. The Mint Plaza Blue Bottle features the eye-catching Japanese five-light siphon bar, which makes brewed coffee, and a menu of single origin coffees which change weekly. Breakfast and lunch are served during the week and brunch 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on weekends.

The Modern Art Desserts, inspired by the museum’s permanent collection, will only be offered at the SFMOMA location but cookbook’s are for sale at Blue Bottle locations and bookstores citywide.

(YBCA) Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
(701 Mission St.)
This contemporary arts center offers visual and performing arts, film and media exhibitions. The museum strives to push patrons to engage with one another and leave the museum with more questions than answers. The Center is connected to Yerba Buena Gardens which hosts the Yerba Buena Gardens Festival, offering free live music from the spring through fall.

The Sentinel
(37 New Montgomery Street)
Blend in with the business crowd at this downtown sandwich staple. Known for its corned beef and revolving sandwich specials, served from an old cigar shop, this lunchtime sandwich stand makes the decisions easy and keeps the line moving.

Seating is not available but there are indoor and outdoor locations nearby, including the atrium at 101 Second St. (at Mission Street) and Yerba Buena Gardens at 750 Folsom St.

49 Geary Art Galleries
(49 Geary Street)
Independent galleries filled with contemporary art from emerging and well-known artists fill the four floors of 49 Geary. Absolutely free to browse galleries, just check in with the lobby attendant and head upstairs. Galleries include: Gregory Lind Gallery (pictured), Fraenkel Gallery, McLoughin Gallery and many more.

Every first Thursday of the month galleries are open from 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. for an open house. For specific galleries inquire ahead of time to ensure hours. For more information visit:

House of Shields
(39 New Montgomery St.)
A long dark mahogany interior and booth seating lit by Victorian fixtures give patrons the feel of an old San Francisco, before Internet and computers, where businessmen and women (only allowed since 1972) can forget about their high-rise office after work. An absence of clock and TV inspires clientele to lose track of time while chatting with their neighbor. Downtown industry people bring in the second wave of business after midnight.

The bar specializes in the most classic of cocktails, including an old fashioned made by bartender Eric Passetti.

Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

Published on May 30, 2013

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