Talk about great introductions. “75 Years of Looking Forward“, had me loving SFMoMA after my first visit to the museum last week. A survey of collection building and leadership since the institution’s inception, the exhibition brilliantly showcases an array of art ranging from early twentieth century sculptures, drawings and photographs to work made within the last two years.
To my mind, the most engaging aspect of the show was its tracing of founding director Grace McCann Morley’s imprint on the museum. Constantly striving to reach larger audiences, Morely launched a show about circuses during World War II, exhibited stunning student work from the Chirodzo Art Centre in Zimbabwe, and showcased domestic and industrial products such as the Ericofon. These efforts may not seem so extraordinary today — many in the contemporary museum world actively mix art and broader culture — but it was certainly a little less common when the museum was founded in 1934. She’s clearly an early model often mimicked today.