Friday, October 8, 2010

Oakland Museum

94708 just toured the newly renovated Oakland Museum. The guide was the renovation architect, Mark Cavagnero, who explained that he's worked on the project (still ongoing) for 11 years. (A short article on the project with more photos and a link to his website is here.) His modest interventions have rescued this wonderful building, designed in the 1960s by Kevin Roche, so it finally works as he intended. Cavagnero has restored internal vistas from gallery to gallery and to the terrace gardens outside. He's also made several new galleries out of little-used courtyards. His additions use lighter materials to contrast with the concrete of the original building. They fit very well. I only toured the art galleries, but they're really good - well worth a visit. The building now makes sense. The revamped exhibit spaces free up the collections, exposing their breadth and quality. (There's also an exhibit-within-an-exhibit, "The Marvelous Museum," that's quite remarkable. More about that in a separate post.) The original building was iconic, but regulations and curator preferences walled off its best features. Cavagnero has restored them. Perhaps it takes another architect to understand what a predecessor was trying to do. Getting to the museum is easy, too - hop on the Fremont train, get off at Lake Merritt, walk a block down Oak Street (noting the Serbian orthodox church at the corner), and there it is. The entry is off Oak, not 10th, as I remembered. The koi pond is still there.

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