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Presidio Trust to Pursue Contemporary Art Museum and History Center


Presidio of San Francisco (January 30, 2008) — The Presidio Trust today announced its intention to move discussions forward with Doris and Don Fisher on the creation of a new contemporary art museum in the Presidio.

The Trust also announced that it will dedicate $5 million for the development of a history center and program which will highlight the national park’s deep historic significance as an important settlement for indigenous peoples, the birthplace of San Francisco, and as the seat of U.S. military power in the western states.

“We are pursuing not one, but two exciting initiatives that will revitalize the Presidio as a center for culture and history and bring a new sense of excitement to this beloved and beautiful place,” said Craig Middleton, executive director of the Presidio Trust. “These undertakings are in no way mutually exclusive. Both will bring enormous benefits to the park. They are great for the Presidio, the public, and the city of San Francisco.”

The Trust will work to raise additional funds for the center and to develop programs that introduce students, the general public, and international visitors to the Presidio and its history.

The museum, dubbed the Contemporary Art Museum at the Presidio (CAMP), was proposed in 2007 by the Fisher family, founders of The Gap, to house their internationally renowned collection of contemporary and modern art. The Fishers will pay for CAMP’s design and construction and have established a foundation to manage their collection and run the museum.

“For Doris and me this is a dream-come-true,” said Don Fisher, a life-long Presidio neighbor. “The Presidio is a gem in the heart of one of the world’s most magnificent cities, and we are honored to have the opportunity to give something back to the city that we love.”

The CAMP proposal led to the Presidio Trust releasing a Request for Proposals, or RFP, for cultural institutions to be located at the Presidio’s Main Post. The RFP included the opportunity for a new building south of the Parade Ground, the Main Post’s principle open space. Three of the 19th century red-brick barracks buildings that flank the Parade Ground were also included in the offering.

In response to the RFP, the Trust received two proposals for new construction – the CAMP proposal and a proposal to construct a history center. The CAMP response was submitted with a substantive funding plan and organization to run the museum. The history center’s proponent, the non-profit Presidio Historical Association, did not identify financing for its proposal. Further, the Association’s proposal recommended that a different body be created to oversee fundraising and program development for the history center.

“The Trust believes the Presidio Historical Association’s ideas have great merit and we have been working for a number of years to make the history of the Presidio more accessible to the public,” Middleton said. “We are committed to establishing a state-of-the art history center. We will work with the Presidio Historical Association, historians and other experts in the field, and the general public to develop a great history center and program at the Presidio.”

Both the art museum and the history center will be subject to an extensive and thoughtful public environmental review process that will include vigorous environmental studies, design review, and public comment. The location, design, size, and configuration of both projects will be subject to this process. No final decisions on either project will be made until the environmental process is concluded.

The CAMP proposal includes a museum that would allow the public to not only view the Fisher’s own collection of more than 1,000 masterworks but to also view traveling shows and exhibitions. The museum would also have a greater percentage of gallery space than most museums.

The Fisher collection includes works from artists such as Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Alexander Calder, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Diebenkorn, Cy Twombly, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Chuck Close, Willem DeKooning, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Anselm Kiefer.

The Trust’s vision for the history center and program is to create a history orientation center and a “museum without walls” in the Presidio’s Main Post, which is the heart of the park and its most historic district. The program would comprise historic buildings and landscapes, and will have a “walk through time” as a central feature. The walk through time is being designed as a pedestrian promenade along the Main Parade that will eventually traverse the park from the bay to the Officer’s Club. From that central path, other paths will lead into the park, connecting to a new network of trails that is being funded with a gift from the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund.

The Main Parade will also be relandscaped in the course of the revitalization plans for the Main Post and will become a 7-acre green with views of the bay, the headlands, and the city. “We believe that the Main Parade will be a grand and fitting backdrop for programs that explore the history of the Presidio as well as those that reflect our own time,” said Middleton. “The history of the Presidio is a history of change – it is a place that has changed over time to meet the needs of the community. Today, we believe that as a unique national park, it can serve the community as a center for history and culture.”

The Presidio Trust was established by the United States Congress in 1996 to manage the Presidio of San Francisco, a former military post located at the southern anchor of the Golden Gate Bridge. The 1,500-acre site contains the infrastructure of a small city as well as expansive open space, a 300-acre historic forest, spectacular views, and rare and endangered plants and wildlife. It comprises nearly 6 million square feet of buildings, including 469 historic buildings that contribute to its status as a National Historic Landmark District.”

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Lisa Petrie

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