M.H. de Young Memorial Museum takes its name after one of the first San Franciscan journalists M.H. de young and together with the Legion of Honor comprises the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco which is located in Golden Gate Park.
M.H. de Young Memorial Museum or shortly called de Young Museum was inaugurated in 1895 and its establishment was inspired by the success of the California Midwinter International Exposition held the previous year. The collection of the de Young Museum was first housed in an Egyptian designed building but was damaged in the great earthquake of 1906. Since then, the museum has seen several changes from a Renaissance-modeled structure to the current museum which was completed in 2005.
The present de Young Museum was designed by three architects namely Fong + Chan, Pierre de Meuron and Jacques Herzog and was finished and inaugurated on October 15, 2005. The museum management also tapped into the expertise of Rutherford and Chekene for the museum?s structural, geotechnical and civil engineering requirements while they consulted with Arup for the facility?s mechanical and electrical engineering needs. One of the things that the architects focused on is making it seismic-proof due to the number of earthquakes that hit San Francisco. Fong & Chan incorporate a system of ball-bearing sliding mechanisms that allow the museum to move up to three feet sideways. They employed fluid damper technology which absorb the energy of the earthquake and transform it to heat.
At first, building the new de Young Museum right at the center of the Golden Gate Park was met with controversy. San Francisco residents were able to bring down the creation of bonds to finance the new museum. This happened twice and after the second time, museum officials decided to move the museum to a new site in the city?s financial capital. This did not happen as generous advocates of the museum surface to keep it in its present location in the middle of Golden Gate Park.
The designers of the museum also took into consideration how it would blend seamlessly with its surroundings and it was Oakland-based landscape architect Walter Hood who was able to address this concern. He utilized 163,118 square feet of copper to cover the entire fa?ade of the museum. Through the years, this copper will oxidize and discolor to take on a greenish hue that would somewhat camouflage into the eucalyptus trees surround the museum. Shapes were also carved into the top to show the greenery and courtyards. 20,700 square meters of new landscaping were also added including more than 300 transplanted trees and close to 70 boulders that hold a historical value.
An interesting exterior feature of the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum is the oddly shaped observation tower which provides guests with a panoramic view of the Marin Headlands and the Golden Gate. It is 144 feet high and from different places in San Francisco, it can be seen hovering above Golden Gate Park?s canopy.
In terms of its collection, the de Young Museum boasts of art pieces dating from the 17th century and up until the 21st century, plus contemporary art hailing from different parts of the world. There are also galleries dedicated to costumes and fabrics and art pieces sourced from Africa, the Pacific and the Americas.
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