Wallace Excellence Awards – The de Young Museum

Wallace Excellence Awards provide support to exemplary arts organizations in selected cities to identify, develop and share effective ideas and practices to reach more people. Eleven arts organizations with budgets over $1 million received these four-year grants. Findings from their projects are reported here.

Now, in its Sixth Season, Friday Nights at the de Young has brought the special exhibitions and permanent collection alive with themed interdisciplinary arts programs, including live music, poetry, films, dance, tours, talks, food, drinks, and more. Each week, Public Programs, a team that operates within the museum’s Education department, creates a uniquely  themed event every Friday from January through the last week of November. These events  are memorable to many people ranging from infants to elders. It is a huge undertaking that requires the careful orchestration of many moving parts. Navigating an endless array of community collaborators, artists, performers, interactive art experiences, logistics, print materials, audio-visual components, and floor plans are a continuous juggling act for our small team of four staff, and thankfully our large group of interns. The team seamlessly works together to present museum-goers with an experience they’ll never forget!

The Wallace Foundation has helped make each of these Friday Nights happen for the Bay Area Community and its visitors. Families and couples alike of all ages rely on Friday Nights to start their weekend off with fantastic and free entertainment. On average, 2,000 museum-goers will come through the doors from 5 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. each week for the free programming.

One of the many staples of the evening is the art table, which has become a fixture of Friday Nights at the de Young. Kids, adults, regulars, and new-comers all crowd around paper-covered tables to take part in the evening’s hands-on art project. The projects are created and led by one of three museum artists and are always reflective of and inspired by special exhibitions or the permanent collection. This past spring we celebrated Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico and Balenciaga and Spain working with local folkloric performance groups of Mexico and Flamenco dance/music groups while the summer, we focused on music of Spain and France to celebrate Picasso: Masterpieces from the Musée National Picasso, Paris.

Friday Nights is included within Cultural Encounters at the de Young, which is a series of interconnected programs created in collaboration with community arts organizations and performing and visual artists. These programs are designed to attract new and diverse audiences to the museum while creating exciting educational and artistic possibilities with the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions. The Wallace Foundation has been integral in making this high level of audience engagement possible.

Please note that the last night of season 6 is November 25, 2011 and our grand re-opening of the 7th season is scheduled for Friday March 30, 2012 which will celebrate The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk with a splash!

Please see the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco website  for more information.

Renee Baldocchi, Director of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco Public Programs


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In 2008, The San Francisco Foundation (TSFF) and Grants for the Arts/San Francisco Hotel Tax Fund (GFTA) embarked on a four-year funding partnership to encourage systemic and sustainable structural change in the relationships of Bay Area arts organizations to their audiences, supported by the Wallace Foundation. Community offerings during the grant period (2008-2011) included seminars, workshops, large public convenings, implementation grants, development of a regional shared mailing list, and expansion of the SFArts.org website.




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