The Modern Art Council (MAC) of SFMOMA kicked-off its 75th anniversary yesterday with its 75th Holiday Luncheon at the museum.

Formerly known as the Women’s Board of the San Francisco Museum of Art, the MAC auxiliary serves as the museum’s fundraising arm and organizer of its many educational programs.

Originally spear-headed by Evie Haas and the late Mary Keesling, the auxiliary’s dedication to modern art is evidenced in the fact that its founding in December 1934 pre-dates the museum’s opening by one month.

While we couldn’t make it to lunch, we did attend a pre-party tea hosted by former MAC President Ann Fisher.

Sara Cumbelich, chairwoman of the MAC@75 Committee, was working hard to track down every former member of the auxiliary -- including checking Social Security lists.

“Over the years, MAC has been a trailblazer in establishing art-related programs,” enthused Cumbelich. “There are so many firsts: MAC established the nation’s first museum film program. Then there’s our Lending Gallery and lunch lecture series.”

Cumbelich also created a special tribute book for MAC members which features vintage photos, news clippings, old menus and invitations. Many of which were culled from a wicker basket filled with a long-standing pile of “stuff” that former MAC President Ann Roth had always planned to organize. Someday.

“When Sara handed me that old basket with everything in chronological order, I almost started to cry” said Roth, with a laugh. “I’ll be eternally grateful to Sara for organizing my treasured MAC memorabilia.”

Today, MAC’s big fundraisers include the annual Treasure Lunch and the biennial Art Auction. But Roth’s memorabilia related to such former (and beloved) events such as the Valentine Ball, Tour de Decors, Beaux Arts Ball and the short-lived Artist Soap Box Derby.

SFMOMA Trustee Charlotte Shultz recalled her chairmanship of the MAC Champagne Supper which used to be held prior to the SF Opera’s Opening-night Gala.

“I was on the phone talking to my dear friend Steve Silver, explaining to him that I needed one more idea for this dinner,” said Shultz, laughing at the memory. “All of the sudden a bird flew by the window and I said to Steve, ‘I’ve got it! Live birds on every table!’ Steve laughed and said, 'Charlotte, you're starting to scare me'."

The museum’s 75th anniversary officially begins on January 18. And that occasion will be marked by a weekend of free entrance (Jan. 16-18) and feature two special exhibitions, 75 Years of Looking Forward.

The first (opens on Dec. 19) will highlight some 250 works from the museum’s permanent collection. The second exhibition (opens Jan. 18) commemorates SFMOMA’s relationships with artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Diane Arbus and Matthew Barney whose work has been featured and collected extensively by the museum.

The year-long celebration will include a special catalog, education programs and, of course, a party: SFMOMA Board of Trustee member Norah Stone will serve as chairwoman of the anniversary gala in May 2010.


Check out more photos below

Former MAC Presidents Debra Dooley and Ann Fisher with 75th Anniversary Honorary Committee co-chair Charlotte Shultz

Holiday Lunch Chairwoman Sue Stewart, Ann Fisher, MAC President Jill Barnett, MAC Anniversary Committee Chairwoman Sara Cumbelich and Treasure Lunch Chairwoman Candace Cavanaugh

Former MAC President and 75th Anniversary Honorary Committee co-chair Ann Roth with MAC members Tracy Bosche and Marybeth La Motte

75th Anniversary Honorary Committee member Grace Eaves Prien at a 1952 MAC event / Courtesy of SFMOMA


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