Gap founder gives up on Presidio museum


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Fisher, a San Francisco resident, had proposed to build a museum that would house his contemporary art collection on the grounds of the Presidio's Main Post.

The collection includes paintings, sculptures and digital art from various artists including Andy Warhol, Chuck Close and Roy Lichtenstein, said Alex Tourk, a spokesman for the Fishers.

"The family just wants to take a step back and reconsider all their options," Tourk said. "They'll be looking at alternative sites within the Presidio as well as alternative sites within San Francisco as well as other municipalities."

The Presidio, a former military post south of the Golden Gate Bridge, is a national park and contains a collection of historical buildings and open space parkland spanning nearly 1,500 acres. It is managed by the Presidio Trust.

The Fishers agreed with the Presidio Trust on Wednesday to abandon the plans for the museum at the Main Post, according to trust spokesman Clay Harrell.

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime offer, so it was our responsibility to try to make it work," Harrell said. "We've been working with all our partners for months, and at this point in time we realized there was no point in holding the Fishers up any more."

Critics of the plan, including the National Park Service and the Presidio Historical Association, claimed the proposal would harm the historical character and natural beauty of the Presidio.

"In terms of both the regulations and common sense ... building a very large contemporary art museum had no place in a national park," Whitney Hall, spokesman for the Presidio Historical Association, said today.

There were four places in the Presidio, including the Main Post, that were identified as possible locations for the museum, and Tourk said the family "would love to find a suitable location that works for all parties."

Hall said that "if it's done very carefully, it would be an exception to the national park rules, but we'll see what can be worked out."

Tourk said that Fisher, who grew up in San Francisco and attended University of California at Berkeley, will look at all possible options for a museum location, both within the Bay Area and outside of it.

However, "they love San Francisco, they've raised their family there, and they'd love to have their collection within San Francisco," Tourk said.

The Presidio Trust is still preparing to move forward with additional plans for the Main Post building, including building a lodge, rehabilitating and expanding the historic theater, and making improvements to transform the area into a haven for pedestrians, Harrell said.

Hall said that "all the attention has been focused strictly upon Mr. Fisher's museum, but there are other proposals by the trust that will be changing the purposes of the Main Post. Those issues still remain on the table and I'm sure will be debated."

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