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Public Knowledge is an expansive, multi-faceted project that aims to promote public dialogue about the cultural impact of urban and technological change and the role of public institutions in these turbulent times in San Francisco and the Bay Area. Bringing together artists, librarians, scholars, and community collaborators and partners from many backgrounds, it is spearheaded by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library.

The Public Knowledge initiative explores the tectonic economic, social, and cultural shifts transforming San Francisco, the factors involved in the changes taking place, and the stakes involved in surviving, resisting, adapting, and trying to shape these changes. Valuing the unique contribution that artistic thinking and practice can make to public conversations, the project will unfold over two years of artists in residence, free talks, discussions, workshops, performances, and other events in neighborhoods and libraries throughout the city. Together we will explore how contemporary art can illuminate issues of concern to our community, and create spaces for new conversations, both locally and farther afield.

In a time when providing access to public information and social engagement, once a key role of public institutions, is now being taken over by technology, the Public Knowledge project recognizes that people seem to be abandoning public institutions, and ambitiously seeks to examine the historic role of public institutions and reinvigorate their relevance today. By experimenting with new ways of forging relationships and nurturing connections, we look to act as a catalyst for participants to exchange ideas and learn from one another, and together to develop new approaches to strengthening the fabric of civic life.

The project will have a physical location at a new pop-up Public Knowledge Library, a temporary branch of the public library at SFMOMA where visitors can engage with all kinds of related materials, and an online location where anyone interested can learn more and participate.

Public Knowledge is organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in partnership with the San Francisco Public Library. The project has been made possible in part by a major Public Humanities Projects, Community Conversations grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor.