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Berkeley Art Museum Reopens May 2

UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive reopens after a 13-month closure with $10 tickets
By - posted 5/1/2021 No Comment

The UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAMPFA) announced today that it will reopen its galleries to the public on a three-day weekly schedule, beginning on Sunday, May 2.

See the BAMPFA reopening updates

After a thirteen-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, BAMPFA will operate under a comprehensive safety plan developed in consultation with public health authorities, which includes limiting attendance to twenty-five percent capacity, mandating masks for all visitors and staff, and implementing timed ticketed access and enhanced cleaning protocols throughout the museum.

  • Friday, April 30: Free Preview for Members and UC Berkeley
  • Saturday, May 1: Free Preview for Essential Workers, Members, UC Berkeley
  • Beginning Sunday, May 2: Open to the Public for Three Days per Week
  • General Admission will be $10 for the “immediate future”

To show its support for the Bay Area community after a difficult year, BAMPFA will waive admission for all visitors on Sunday, May 2, and offer a reduced $10 general admission fee for the immediate future.

In addition, the museum will open for a free special preview day on Saturday, May 1, for essential workers as an expression of gratitude for their contributions during the pandemic. Visitors whose jobs have been classified by the State of California as Essential Critical Infrastructure—such as healthcare, emergency services, public transit, grocery stores, and delivery services—will receive free admission on May 1 with the presentation of a work ID.

The museum is also offering free previews for BAMPFA members and UC Berkeley students, faculty, and staff on Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1.

Following its reopening weekend, BAMPFA will be open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays for the immediate future, with an anticipated return to its regular five-day weekly schedule as conditions improve.

The museum’s new hours of operation during this period are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with the first hour of each Saturday reserved exclusively for members. BAMPFA continues to monitor the latest updates from the City of Berkeley Public Health Division and UC Berkeley regarding COVID-19, and the museum will revise this operating schedule as appropriate based on their guidance.

As part of its safety plan, BAMPFA is instituting a timed ticketing system for all museum visitors, including those who attend on free preview days.

  • Advance reservations are strongly encouraged, with walk-up tickets available on a very limited basis.
  • Reservations will be available on BAMPFA’s website beginning April 21 for members and April 22 for the general public.

A centerpiece of BAMPFA’s reopening is the relaunch of its acclaimed retrospective of the work of Rosie Lee Tompkins, which opened in February 2020 and was on view for less than a month prior to the museum’s closure. Celebrated by the New York Times as “a life-changing, history-altering exhibition,”Rosie Lee Tompkins: A Retrospective is the largest retrospective to date of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated quiltmakers, whose work has been newly rediscovered following a historic bequest to BAMPFA in 2018 of nearly three thousand quilts by African American artists. Originally slated to close on December 20, 2020, the exhibition has been extended through July 18, 2021.

Three New Major Exhibitions

In addition to the Rosie Lee Tompkins retrospective, BAMPFA’s reopening marks the launch of three major new exhibitions that were installed during the museum’s closure.

●       Ulrike Ottinger / MATRIX 276: A new exhibition of photography by Ulrike Ottinger, a German filmmaker, visual artist, and stage director. As a photographer, Ottinger is witness to a world in transition, documenting places and settings that are imbued with a sense of history and cultural customs. She is the latest artist to exhibit in the museum’s MATRIX Program for Contemporary Art. Her MATRIX exhibition at BAMPFA coincides with a virtual series of her films, which are available to rent from BAMPFA’s website.

●      Beyond Boundaries: Buddhist Art of Gandhara: A presentation of extremely rare Buddhist sculptures from the ancient civilization of Gandhara, which existed in what is today Northern India from the second through ninth centuries CE. The first North American exhibition in more than a decade to focus on Gandharan art, Beyond Boundaries features early depictions of the Buddha and his life story, which reflect distinctive artistic influences from the region’s cultural exchanges with the Hellenistic world of Greece and Rome.

●      Present Tense: Five Centuries of Colonialism in Latin American and Caribbean Art: A student-curated group exhibition of Latin American art from the BAMPFA collection that explores the complicated impact of colonialism in Central and South America, as depicted in the work of contemporary artists who reexamine these painful histories to address the injustices of the present day. Present Tense is the latest in BAMPFA’s Cal Conversations program, a series of exhibitions developed in collaboration with UC Berkeley classes.

Large-Scale Mural

Alongside these exhibitions, BAMPFA is also presenting the large-scale mural Affordable Housing for Trans Elders, a site-specific installation that was commissioned by the museum in late 2019 from the artist Edie Fake.

While BAMPFA’s Barbro Osher Theater and Film Library and Study Center remain closed at this time, the museum continues to offer a robust selection of streaming film programs at bampfa.org/film. BAMPFA’s website also hosts an expansive roster of live virtual programming, including performances, workshops, panel discussions, and educational and family programs. BAMPFA’s store will return at limited capacity during this period. BAMPFA’s Art Lab is continuing online during this period, with free art-making tutorials offered through the museum’s Instagram page. Babette Cafe will reopen at limited capacity starting April 30, offering dine-in service for ticketed patrons of the museum.

COVID-19 Safety Protocols

In consultation with UC Berkeley public health authorities and the City of Berkeley Public Health Division, BAMPFA is implementing a comprehensive safety plan to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The museum’s enhanced safety protocols include:

  • An attendance cap of twenty-five percent capacity, with a timed ticketing system to ensure appropriate foot traffic volume.
  • A requirement that all staff and visitors over the age of two wear masks at all times inside the museum.
  • Increased sanitizing of public spaces with products approved for use against COVID-19, especially frequently touched areas such as restrooms, elevators, and store surfaces.
  • Hand sanitizer stations installed at the museum entrance and throughout the building.
  • Directional signage on floor surfaces to maintain appropriate circulation and ensure social distancing.
  • Plexiglass shields at the admissions desk, which has discontinued coat check services; visitors will be encouraged to use touchless payment options.
  • The suspension of guided tours and other public programs.
  • The restriction of elevators to one individual or party of visitors per ride.
  • The reopening of BAMPFA’s store with reduced capacity.


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