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de Young
Museum Store

San Francisco, CA

Design Excellence Awards (ASID IL Chapter)
Honorable Mention / 2006

Project PDF

Blending Art & Architecture in a Dynamic Environment


After the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, the original museum building was declared unsafe. As the new facilities were being planned, Charles Sparks + Company was asked to help the museum maximize new opportunities for effective retail activity. Our comprehensive business plan formed the foundation for a 5,950-square-foot, two-level store, to be located near the new main court gathering area. The new museum was to be centered on the overall idea of integrating art and architecture with the natural landscape of San Francisco's beloved Golden Gate Park.


Our design plan included a division of merchandise categories, so that the ground floor, with its adjacency to the museum's main gathering place, would receive the majority of visitors entering, in the midst of their overall experience. This level of the store includes a vast array of distinctive merchandise inspired by the art museum's educational mission and its worldwide permanent collections: decorative objects, jewelry, educational children's books and toys, stationery, posters, home and office accessories, textiles, and more. Our design, finishes, materials, lighting, and fixtures imaginatively showcase this diverse range of products, allowing for versatility and change.

The store's two levels recall the idyllic landscape of Golden Gate Park using angular, darkly stained vertical dividers and tables to evoke the surrounding trees. The store location and layout flow easily from the main court, connecting the two levels with an internal staircase to give a preferred path for visitors. The lower level became the primary location for destination merchandise—complementing special exhibitions and featuring a wide range of art books, museum publications, and specialty items. We also integrated new technology with an art-on-demand interactive kiosk that offers custom prints.

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