• SFMOMA Presents a New Palette of Venues

    FROM THE Fall 2016 ISSUE

When a major museum closes for three years, then reopens with a 10-story, $305 million expansion that triples its gallery space and makes a stunning architectural statement, meeting planners are quick to come knocking.

“Demand is very high,” says Fiona Humphrey, director of special events at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which took the wraps off its new addition in May. “We’re the new kid on the block, and that’s driven a lot of inquiries our way.”

An improved economy is also bringing business, she notes. “Something’s happened in the market since we closed three years ago,” Humphrey says. “It feels different now. People are having more events in general.”

With 170,000 square feet of new and renovated indoor and outdoor space, SFMOMA offers many options for corporate and social gatherings. “We go between groups of 100 and 2,500, but our sweet spot is about 400,” Humphrey says. “That’s a nice number for us.”

Planners can rent any of eight individual galleries for their event, or choose a venue bundle that provides multiple spaces in which to meet, mingle and dine. For large gatherings the combination of the museum’s Haas, Jr. Atrium and second-floor Schwab Hall works especially well. “The atrium is a prefunction space for a reception, and then dinner can be served in the hall,” Humphrey says. “Or we can combine and do a larger, station-style dinner where everyone can walk around, as opposed to a more formal seated meal.”

For groups of 200 or fewer, the Rooftop Garden and Pavilion on the fifth floor has emerged as a highly desirable venue; planners can choose from eight approved caterers for their events.

All rental fees include museum guards, engineers, coat check, janitorial services and a museum liaison.

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Aventri, a leader in events management software (EMS), recently released ‘The Top 100 Meeting and Event Venues in the United States’ for 2019. The company took the ten top-rated meeting and event cities in the United States and picked the top ten venues in each area, compiling a list of 100 highly-regarded spaces. 

The guide identifies the two most valuable factors in attendee satisfaction as venue location and activities in the host city, followed by capacity, uniqueness and proximity to local attractions.