SFMoMA Show Highlights Collection-Building

Posted inID Mag

September 10, 2008. Henry Urbach, former owner of New York’s Henry Urbach Architecture Gallery and current Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design at SFMoMA has given visitors a twist on the ordinary museum exhibition with 246 and Counting: Recent Architecture + Design Acquisitions. The show gets all meta by exposing visitors to the process of collection building, an activity which marshals just as much effort as (and much more money than) exhibition building while being largely invisible to the public. Urbach’s theme translates into a display of the objects acquired during his tenure at SFMoMA, which began in September 2006; some are in jewel-box vitrines in careful sequence and under pinpoint illumination, while others are clustered by date of acquisition on plinths without customary labeling or interpretations of their history. Urbach’s approach reminds us of what goes into shoring up and adding to a collection—surely valuable in itself—but it also underscores the very particular lenses through which exhibitions are usually presented to the public, a fact often forgotten when reading authoritative wall texts and detailed labeling of artifacts. Through January 4, 2009. sfmoma.org