The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, one of the largest institutions in the Western Hemisphere devoted to Asian art, will reopen in a roomier home March 20: a 1917 Beaux Arts-style building that once housed the city’s main library.
The price tag for the project is more than $160 million in public and private funds. It’s part of the ongoing investment in the City by the Bay, which has just begun running an in-airport train system and will soon reopen its renovated Ferry Building.
The museum’s move to downtown will allow it to display nearly 2,500 works from its renowned collection, more than double what it could show in its old Golden Gate Park location, in a lavishly renovated landmark that is a destination on its own.
Italian architect Gae Aulenti -- who converted a glass-ceilinged Paris train station into the Musee d’Orsay, which shows Impressionist treasures under natural light -- was recruited to rework the library building. He retained the Beaux-Arts exterior, skylights, staircase and other historic details. But he added a new interior court with skylights, a dramatic two-story escalator, a museum store, a cafe and other features.
The museum, at 200 Larkin St. overlooking Civic Center Plaza, will be open daily except Monday; hours vary. Adult admission will be $10. (415) 581-3500, www.asianart.org.
The AirTrain is part of a long-awaited project to link San Francisco International Airport with the Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART, system that serves the region. What opened last week was a five-mile circuit with stations at the airport’s terminals and rental car center. The train runs 24 hours a day. The link to BART is not completed, and no opening date has been announced.
On March 21 the historic Ferry Building on the Embarcadero is scheduled to reopen after two years. It’s eventually expected to house an extensive farmers market and gourmet food shops, but tenants will be moving in gradually over several months, a spokeswoman said.