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Moscone Center’s Renovation Brings Exciting New Art to its Collection

The Moscone Center is more than a world-class convention venue. It's a home for the arts.

A Home for the Arts

The Moscone Center has long housed a wealth of public artwork, thanks to the City of San Francisco’s Art Enrichment Ordinance. From the outset, enhancing the state-of-the-art facility with public art was championed by Moscone leadership.

“There was an extensive process in coordination with the San Francisco Arts Commission to find the best pieces possible,” says Lynn Farzaroli, senior director of the Moscone expansion for San Francisco Travel.

According to the Art Enrichment Ordinance, budgets for new public buildings and civic improvements must set aside 2 percent of gross construction costs for the procurement and installation of public art in their spaces. The program was enacted in 1969 to guarantee a funding mechanism for the acquisition of artwork for new public facilities and civic spaces.

Overseeing the program is the San Francisco Arts Commission, a public agency charged with investing in a vibrant arts community, enlivening the urban environment and shaping innovative cultural policy for the city. In addition to its Public Art Program, the commission also grants over $8 million to support small and mid-sized arts non-profits and individual artists.

“We’re lucky as a city to have an art enrichment program,” says Arts Commission communications director Kate Patterson. “To date, we’ve amassed more than 4,000 objects and beautified many of our city’s public spaces. It’s this kind of enlivening cultural policy that makes San Francisco such a vibrant community for the arts.”

Working closely with the Moscone team, the Arts Commission put a lot of effort into adding to the convention center’s collection when planning for the expansion began in 2012, seeking the most exciting and impactful works of art.

“We went through an extensive request for proposal process organized by the Arts Commission, looking through hundreds of entries,” Farzaroli says.

The team also saw the project as “an opportunity for the center to make its artistic contribution more apparent to the community,” Farzaroli says. As a result, much of the new art is located outside of the center, visible to neighbors and passersby as well as convention attendees.

“With Moscone, the goals were to create a sense of place, enhance the building’s civic presence and connect the campus to the surrounding neighborhood,” says Patterson. “We wanted to improve and activate the street-level experience and allow for a more inviting public space, and we think the projects that were chosen have done just that.”

Leo Villareal, designer of “The Bay Lights” on the Bay Bridge, was one of the artists selected to contribute to Moscone. His latest light installation, “PointCloud,” has been incorporated into the new East Bridge, which connects Moscone North and South.

“Right from the outset, we knew that the skybridge presented a great opportunity for integrated public art,” Patterson says. “Moreover, we felt that it would be ideal for some sort of light installation. With ‘PointCloud,’ Villareal has designed another iconic light sculpture for San Francisco.”

Other artworks chosen for Moscone include a series of sculptures designed by Sarah Sze, entitled “Double Horizon,” and a sculpture by Christine Corday. Sze’s addition comprises several sculptures that will “serve as a focal point for the West Bridge,” Patterson says. Corday’s “Geneses” is a captivating, monumental sculpture built from stainless steel and concrete that was inspired by the concept of “beginning.” There is also a large-scale mural for the Moscone Paseo by Brendan Monroe. Titled “Roll,” the mural’s imagery draws from the movement of water and air in nature.

“The Arts Commission has helped make some great selections for the expansion,” Farzaroli says. “We’re really excited for people to see them.”