Impressive New Art and Film Archives Museum adds to Berkeley’s Unique Magnetism
By Eliza Partika
UC Berkeley has added a new Art and Film Archives Museum to their long list of enviable qualities. The Berkeley Art Museum and Film Archives sports several theaters and a massive outdoor screen in addition to an extensive collection of digital media and films from every corner of the globe. The art contained within the walls was most impressive for the vast time periods it covered, from Pre Columbian society to the present day; not only did the art span all of history, it covered every country imaginable, lending to perspectives that would have been largely ignored but for the film playing on the wall or the series of prints displayed on pedestals. The films and art paid homage to skills long dead – intricate lace patterns made for dress collars, grainy films focused on the life that comes from building blocks and speculating on the beauty of a marked woman and a garden fountain – things that modern society is moving too fast to notice.
The film archives library can be seen through a glass window beneath a bright orange staircase, tables and shelves waiting for an idea to spark a flame. The library contains films from all over the bay area, and is a reference for other universities. According to their website, http://www.bampfa.org, the museum’s archives contains “over 10,000 books, 150 journal titles, 50,000 film stills,” and a plethora of international film festival programs, screenplays, and other mixed media. The archives library is open to students, researchers, and the public community. Books on avant-garde films, film noir, poetry, theater, and other art and media forms crowd the shelves of their hallway-turned-giftshop. Of course, the store would not be complete without books on the film-craft of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings to appease the inner fandom nerd in all of us.
A mural in the main “sitting area” of the museum particularly caught my attention. The garden map that sprawled across the whitewashed walls was a marvel due to its sheer size, but its real magnificence came from the titles labeling each monument. Tags like “Mt. Sensory Management” and “Social Relationships River” spoke to different characteristics that connect us and define us as human beings. It was well worth the time it took to browse the vast collection along with hundreds of thousands of other people there to get free admission to an art exhibition. I went in expecting one thing, and came out marveled by the nuanced efforts the museum put into understanding not only their audience, but humanity itself, with every piece of art and every film reel.