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BAMPFA: The Architecture of Life

Artists, critics, curators and awed students flooded the spacious new Berkeley Art Museum – Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) to admire this location’s first show at the opening on Sunday, Feb. 6th.

The new museum site encompasses many galleries, a theater and a new Art Wall, which will regularly feature the work of various artists. Currently, it hosts Qui Zhijie’s The World Garden, a large map depicting a fictitious place with locations including the Birth of Wilderness, and the Spot of Returning to Reading.

“The Art Wall, due to its prominent placement within the new BAMPFA building, will be the first presentation of art to greet our visitors, or any passerby on Center Street,” Lauren O’Connell, a Curatorial Associate at the BAMPFA, said in an email. “By turning large-scale artworks outward toward the street, BAMPFA is setting up a platform to engage the public in new and meaningful ways.”

The World Garden is just one part of the current show, Architecture of Life. The show explores how architecture in its various forms influences various aspects of life. These aspects include the psyche, our physical bodies and architecture in the more literal sense.

“The theme of the show really fits the new state of the BAMPFA,” UC Berkeley senior Nathan Wright said. “The actual, steel and wood, architecture of this building is incredible, and the less obvious architecture of the gallery experience is felt also.”

The gallery space functions as one of the works on display.

“In many ways, the new Diller Scofidio + Renfro designed building is yet another artwork within the exhibition Architecture of Life,” O’Connell said. “The premise of the exhibition presents architecture as a metaphor for the many facets of life—the natural world, the human body, imagination and psyche, among other things.”

Every gallery in the building is filled by this exhibition, comprising over two hundred works of art from all over the world and as old as 2000 years.  The art includes Pomo baskets, Micronesian navigational charts, and tantric drawings from Rajasthan.

“The span of this exhibit is almost too good to be true,” Alma Cortez, a BAMPFA member, said. “I love that the museum is showing art by women, and people of color. Most museums in the Bay Area, in the world, don’t.”

In addition to the galleries, the BAMPFA will be hosting several reoccurring events over the next year. One of these is the Cinema Mon Amour, a year long series of presentations by local celebrities, art historians and filmmakers. Another event series is Full. Full is a series of events that will be held on the nights of the full moon. These events will bring music and other performances to the museum, so that visitors can experience the galleries in a new way.

A lecture series on Wednesday afternoons, The Big Ideas course, is open to the public and brings together professors from many different disciplines across the UC Berkeley campus to explore “Big Ideas.”

Did you miss the opening? First Thursdays of the month at the museum are free all day. The BAMPFA is easily reachable both by BART and AC transit, and is open Wednesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.