Pier 24 in San Francisco is Photography Heaven

This is a re-post from 2010 since my students and I will go there tomorrow to see the “About Face” show as part of our studies in Portraiture.

Myself and some photo-geek friends visited Pier 24 this week, which has to be the largest private collection of photography open to the public on the west coast. A spectacular 28,000 square foot building on the San Francisco Embarcadero at Pier 24 houses an enormous collection owned by Financier Andy Pilara and also showcases other rotating works.

The website describes the gallery as “a contemporary photography space housing the permanent collection of The Pilara Foundation. In addition to hosting rotating exhibitions, the warehouse is focused on addressing and adapting to the constantly evolving concerns of the photographic community.  Born out of the desire to reinvent the ways in which photography and photographic ideas are presented, Pier 24 is a distinctive environment where art has the freedom to be seen and thought about differently. Work is not only exhibited but serves as a catalyst to advance the creation, scholarship and understanding of the medium…

Pier 24 was built in 1935, and is located just south of the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Vacant since 1980, the Pilara Foundation is the first to inhabit this historic space in nearly three decades. After two years of remodeling and improving the space, while retaining its original historic integrity, the Pilara Photographic Collection is now housed in the 28,000 square foot gallery warehouse. The design of the building straddles the line between storage and exhibition space, while maintaining an inherently gallery-like aesthetic. The scale of the space allows for the vast collection to be displayed with little restriction, and the location off the Embarcadero promenade, directly underneath the Bay Bridge, provides for a breathtaking panoramic view of the Bay. Pier 24 embodies respect for the original use and intention of the building, pays homage to a remarkable collection of photography, and reverence for the stunning landscape of the Bay Area.”

3 thoughts on “Pier 24 in San Francisco is Photography Heaven

  1. A ver;y good summation of this wonderful gallery. I was thrilled by this collection and amazed that you can appreciate all of these artist work in one show. Additionally, the ability to see this work in such a tranquil and uncrowded way was a priviledge. All of the prints are unmarked with either artist of title of the work.


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