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State of the Art

For Charles R. Schwab, the new SFMOMA marks a savvy investment in forward thinking, big ideas and humanity.

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Charles Schwab inside “Sequence,” Richard Serra’s massive steel sculpture at SFMOMA.


When the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art reopens May 14 after a three-year, $610 million expansion project, thousands of visitors will enter through the vast, light-filled Helen and Charles Schwab Hall. The expanse reflects the central role that Atherton resident Charles “Chuck” Schwab has played in reinventing the museum’s positioning, raising its profile and reimagining it as a jewel in the city’s—and the nation’s—cultural landscape.

Chairman of SFMOMA’s board of directors since 2007, the discount brokerage pioneer is among the world’s premier art collectors, a passion born after taking his children to a museum and “seeing how it sparked their interest and curiosity. As a kid, I lived in an area without those resources,” recalls Schwab, who grew up in Woodland, a Sacramento Valley farming community.

The Schwabs have promised several significant works to SFMOMA, including pieces by Jackson Pollock, Francis Bacon and David Smith, and Schwab says that he has come to appreciate art as “the ultimate capture of human history. Even where there is no written word, art goes back millennia and is critical in capturing the human experience.”

He continues, “SFMOMA is now the greatest place to experience contemporary art, a public place for all to share.” To engage and inspire young visitors, the museum is offering free admission, in perpetuity, to guests under 18. “My hope is that over time we will be able to attract every citizen of our community to enjoy the benefits of its art and education,” says Schwab. “This is a start; the process does not end today.”

151 Third St., San Francisco


Originally published in the May issue of Silicon Valley

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