Mexican Museum's new home closer to reality

David de la Torre, back as executive director of the Mexican Museum, walks past an installation by artist Julio C. Morales. Photo: Liz Hafalia, The Chronicle

For 20 years, the Mexican Museum, longtime tenant of Fort Mason Center, has sought to open a dedicated building in the evolving Yerba Buena Cultural District as its 14,000-object collection long ago outgrew the present space's capacity. The wait to integrate the museum into the first four floors of a Millennium Partners luxury high-rise may finally be ending - in about five more years.

"The biggest hurdle now is just getting it built," said Andrew Kluger, recently elected chair of the Mexican Museum's seven-member board, by phone. "This is the first time we see things flowing."

The envisioned 52,000-square-foot facility at 706 Mission St. is estimated to cost $40 million to $42 million, most of which has been secured. Meanwhile, the $30 million endowment campaign stands at $5 million, with Kluger seeing another potential seven-figure private donation on the horizon.

A long train of steps and stumbles has taken the Mexican Museum from its 1975 founding by Peter Rodriguez in a nondescript building on Folsom Street through Fort Mason Center to yet-to-be-built permanent quarters worthy of its collection, alongside the Contemporary Jewish Museum.

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