Crowds turned out Thursday evening to celebrate a milestone in the new Berkeley art museum project downtown. Photo: Emilie Raguso
Crowds turned out Thursday evening to celebrate a milestone in the new Berkeley art museum project downtown. Photo: Emilie Raguso

Thursday evening, community members turned out in droves to sign the final steel beam for Berkeley’s new art museum before it was lifted high into the air by a crane and set in place.

The Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is undergoing a complete rebuild in a new downtown Berkeley location, west of Oxford Street between Center and Addison, with its opening set for January 2016.

The “topping out” celebration was a chance for art fans to sign the final beam before watching it be set into place by construction workers shortly after 7 p.m. Addison Street between Oxford and Shattuck Avenue was closed to vehicle traffic during the event, as attendees enjoyed music from 14-piece brass band Mission Delirium and wrote messages on every surface of the beam using colorful markers.

Photographs from the event, by Berkeleyside reporter Emilie Raguso, appear below.

Museum director Lawrence Rinder addressed the crowd, as did Berkeley Vice Mayor Linda Maio, UC Berkeley Vice Chancellor John Wilton and John Wilson, president of Plant Construction, which is erecting the new building. (Berkeleyside was a sponsor of the event.)

The new museum, in addition to being seismically safe, will have twice the space for education and collection access, so “the material richness of UC Berkeley’s collection will be accessible to a broader public,” Rinder told the crowd Thursday. The facility will also include two state-of-the art theaters to showcase the Pacific Film Archive’s collection “for the first time in our history.”

The new museum complex was designed by architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which created New York City’s High Line and the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art.

The building is scheduled to be complete in a year, but Rinder said another six months will be needed before exhibitions are ready for public viewing. A “naked opening” of the completed structure, without art, is planned for next fall.

Read more about the project on Berkeleyside and via the project website.

Salvaged trees to be used in Berkeley’s new art museum (05.22.14)
On the cusp: Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive (05.01.13)
Before new Berkeley art museum can rise, a demolition (04.08.13)
Art museum chief: New space good for Town & Gown (02.13.13)

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