Fisher Museum fiasco continues San Francisco

April 16, 2008

It seems that Doris and Donald Fisher’s plan to house their personal collection in a purpose-built Museum in the Presidio area of San Francisco has hit another hurdle. As reported in The Examiner the proposal has come under fire from a high-ranking official from the National Park Service.

The struggle has been going on for some time, but the most recent event is a letter from National Park Service General Superintendent Brian O’Neill to the Presidio Trust on April 4. In it O’Neill claimed that Fisher’s 100,000-square-foot ContemporaryArt Museum at the Presidio “would result in an adverse effect that significantly impacts the integrity of the [National Historic Landmark].” He continued, “The projects as proposed in the current undertaking are not consistent with the secretary of interior’s standards … Nor are they in keeping with the Trust’s own planning guidelines and cultural analysis of the Main Post.”

The Main Post has a strong military history and groups countering the Fishers’ plan have called for a museum that better reflects the area’s past. Moreover, the scale and sleek design of the building by Gluckman Mayner Architects of New York has been viewed as inappropriate by many residents and army servicemen. It’s sleekness is seen as intrusive and in too much of a juxtaposition with the existing architecture – Victorian brick buildings with wooden porches and pitched roofs. As the case unfolds, Presidio Trust is currently conducting an environmental impact study on the museum.

Gary Widman, president of the Presidio Historical Association, a nonprofit that has been opposed to the museum, said in a press release that he was “pleased to see the National Park Service shares many of our objections to the FisherArt Museum being built on the Presidio’s Main Post.”

Kiley Russel, spokeswoman for the museum remained positive. “We feel confident that the Park Service will reconsider this initial reaction when the facts and CAMP’s proposal are fully before it for its consideration.”

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