Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive to Reopen May 2

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Diller Scofidio + Renfro, UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, 2016; Aerial view from the UC Berkeley Campus. (Courtesy Diller Scofidio + Renfro)

After thirteen months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive will reopen its galleries to the public on May 2. The museum will operate under a new safety plan, maintaining a three-day weekly schedule (Friday–Sunday), timed ticketing and 25% capacity.

Awaiting visitors is the much-heralded retrospective of Richmond quilter Rosie Lee Tompkins, which was open for less than a month before the Bay Area shut down last year. Originally slated to close in December 2020, that exhibition of approximately 70 quilts, pieced tops, embroideries, assemblages and decorated objects is now up through July 18, 2021.

Three new exhibitions have been installed during the museum’s closure, including a survey of photography by the German artist and filmmaker Ulrike Ottinger; Beyond Boundaries: Buddhist Art of Gandhara, a presentation of rare artifacts from the ancient civilization; and Present Tense: Five Centuries of Colonialism in Latin American and Caribbean Art.

Not on view—to this writer’s great regret—is the survey of ceramicist Ron Nagle that opened last January, Handsome Drifter, which a museum spokesperson says they were unable to extend due to other commitments.

BAMPFA’s theater, film library and study center will remain closed until further notice, but their streaming film programs will continue online, along with live virtual programming. (On that note, an intriguing event by artist Zeph Fishlyn on April 25 invites participants to walk out of their front doors on a group Zoom call to explore ideas of safety, proximity and the limits of virtual meeting.)


BAMPFA is offering free preview dates on April 30 and May 1 for BAMPFA members and UC Berkeley students, faculty and staff, and admission is also free on May 1 for essential workers. Today’s announcement strongly encourages visitors to make reservations in advance of arriving the museum; general admission tickets will be offered at a reduced rate of $10 for the immediate future. Reservations will be available on BAMPFA’s website beginning April 21 for members and April 22 for the general public.

The announcement comes amid a wave of reopening news. Also on Thursday, the Legion of Honor in San Francisco announced a reopening date of May 7.

For the full details on BAMPFA’s reopening, click here.