Taking It to the Streets 

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Strolling through downtown San Francisco it’s hard to miss the iconic Parisian style kiosks installed in the 1990s. Many of them were designed as newsstands, but today, as newspaper sales have plummeted, almost 70 of them have been shuttered. In 2010, the architecture firm of HOK, initiated the re:News project to develop new uses for the neglected street furniture.

Community Arts International has been developing museum exhibitions in unexpected venues for over thirty years. We brought the concept of popular arts to museums, starting at The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco where we exhibited disposable Pop Art, including Andy Warhol paper dresses and Peter Max bed sheets. In collaboration with HOK and JCDecaux , we now are bringing art to the streets of San Francisco by converting the unused newsstand kiosks into Kiosk Museums.

As we wander the city, standing at a bus stop or waiting in line, we invariably look to our mobile devices for distraction. But anywhere one looks–in shop windows, restaurant counters, stacked in the corner of a room–there are aesthetic vignettes to enjoy. The goal of the KioskMuseum project is to capture and contextualize these moments, creating a museum experience in these repurposed diminutive urban spaces that never close.

A Collaborative Effort  

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To realize this innovative public art project, we have partnered with HOK, JCDecaux, the City of San Francisco, and the Union Square Business Improvement District. Each organization has contributed their expertise.

A team of architects from HOK re-engineered the kiosks. JCDecaux donated their kiosks and ongoing maintenance services. The Union Square Business Improvement District is providing support and  sponsorship. Our collective goal is to enrich the cultural life of the city by establishing mini-museums on city streets.

The first two Kiosk Museums opened in July. Plans are underway for additional Kiosk Museums in the Financial District and NorthBeach.

Exhibitions

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The first exhibit, A World View of Puppets, opened July 24, 2013. The Kiosk Museums have since featured exhibitions about vintage toys, teapots, banks, masks, game boards, Chinatown and San Francisco’s historic department stores, among others.

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