Welcome to The Stacks

Essays Interviews Back to Top

Welcome to The Stacks

Essays Interviews Back to Top
Welcome to The Stacks

Courtesy SFMOMA. Photo: Katherine de Tiel.

Working within a modern art museum in close collaboration with a public library, we think a great deal about the evolving role of cultural institutions. We reflect on their pasts, presents and futures, and their traditional and potential roles in civic life.

As the booming technology industry has led to rising prices, hyper-gentrification and growing inequality, the culture of the San Francisco Bay Area has undergone profound changes. Many artists have left for other cities, and much of San Francisco’s diversity has disappeared from its cultural landscape. Today, vastly different types of cultural entities—both old and new, public and private—now call the city home. 

These shifts beg important questions. What is the relationship between urban change and knowledge in the digital age? How are urban and technological changes reshaping public culture? And how are digital technologies impacting what we know and how we know it.

Over the past few years we have become aware of the polarized and often isolated nature of public conversations exploring potential answers to these questions. Even when those speaking on these themes share similar values, we find that they are rarely in dialogue with one another. Public Knowledge is about bridging the gaps between different types of experts, and connecting the dots between conversations. In so doing, we hope to change the discourse.

The Stacks, a quarterly online publication, is a platform that reflects this ambition. Our contributors provide penetrating and imaginative perspectives on issues that lie at the heart of Public Knowledge. They look to juxtapose ideas in unusual ways; explore comparisons with other places and other times; and imagine new forms of solidarity and collective thought. This is a space for considering how contemporary art, and artistic imagination in particular, can illuminate topics of concern to our community.

Within The Stacks, you will find interviews with thought leaders and community members grappling with Public Knowledge themes; essays from curators, scholars, writers and artists with whom we are in dialogue; as well as reports on recent talks, discussions and other Public Knowledge events.

We hope you treat this digital space of ideas similarly to the way you might browse the aisles at your favorite library. If you’re interested in a particular topic, flip through our catalogue of content tags. If you’re just curious, please stay a while, explore and discover something unexpected.

The Public Knowledge Team