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BAMPFA virtual live auction in the museum's empty theater

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Virtual Fellini: On March 10, UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive had planned a “Felliniesque” gala at the Hibernia honoring the centennial of this Italian filmmaker and the retirement of museum director-chief curator Larry Rinder. But, damn, neither of these artistic innovators received their public applause. However, Rinder, joined by museum trustees Carla Crane (gala co-chair) and SB Master (gala auction chair) rallied, alone, in the museum’s empty Osher Theater to go on with the show … virtually.

And the museum still netted a healthy $529K, including $285K for BAMPFA’s fund-a-need that provides free arts education programs.

“Canceling at the last minute was a bummer. But compared to the bigger bummer out there in the world, this was small potatoes,” Rinder says by phone. “I’m so proud of my BAMPFA staff, Carla and SB. They turned on a dime to create as positive an experience as possible.”

Gala supporters tuned in via a private web channel where they bid on luxe auction lots and viewed the world premiere of a new BAMPFA-commissioned short film on Fellini (starring Isabella Rossellini) by Guy Maddin.

“Even without a great party and delicious food in a beautiful location, our supporters rallied,” Rinder says. “Some even held dinner parties in their homes, like Oscar night, and cheered us on with tweets and Instagram posts. It was incredibly heartwarming.”

Although Rinder is finishing up some museum projects, he is officially retired. He started at BAMPFA as a curator in 1988, and was named director in 2008.

“I love this institution. BAMPFA is one of the most artistically rich, community-connected, risk-taking yet academically rigorous institutions in the country,” Rinder enthuses. “I’m proud we succeeded in our capital campaign to build our new museum that’s designed more like a cultural town square filled with art-making and diverse exhibitions.

“All museums are suffering right now,” he continues. “But as soon as this crisis is behind us, BAMPFA will once again thrive as an intersection of connection, art, surprise and discovery.”

Image credit:
A.J. Fox
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