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Inside the New UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Four things you need to know about the new destination for world-class art and film.


Diller Scofidio + Renfro, courtesy of the Regents of the University of California

In its impressive new space only a block from BART, the UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is poised to lure even more art and film lovers than before when it opens January 31. Here are some highlights.

1. The Building

The $112 million museum was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the architects known for Los Angeles’ new contemporary art museum, The Broad, and New York’s High Line. It merges the 1930s art deco style of a former UC Berkeley printing plant with new construction, including an undulating stainless steel roof. Inside, amphitheater seating crafted by famed local woodworker Paul Discoe uses wood from pine trees cut down at the site.


 Iwan Baan, Courtesy of Diller Scofidio + Renfro; EHDD/ UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

2. The Galleries and Theaters

More than 25,000 square feet of exhibition space is divided among several galleries, including one dedicated to the museum’s permanent collection of Himalayan art. Two theaters—containing 232 and 33 seats—were designed specifically for film, for the first time in the museum’s history, with optimal seating, acoustics, and sound, plus a small stage for live accompaniment to silent films.


3. The Highlights

Families will love the Art Lab, a drop-in, all-ages art-making space. A 30-foot LED screen outside will not only show museum messages but become a gathering place for film screenings. Late-night events are scheduled every full moon, and the on-site café, Babette, transitions into an evening lounge.


4. The Opening Exhibit

Occupying every gallery, the inaugural exhibit, Architecture of Life, celebrates the new building, highlighting architecture as a concept, metaphor, and practice. Among the more than 250 international works are scientific illustrations, architectural drawings, Pomo baskets, and a large site-specific mural (part of a biannual rotating installation) by Chinese artist Qiu Zhijie. 2155 Center St., Berkeley, (510) 642-0808, bampfa.org.  

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