In keeping with the museum’s history, a public debate ensued. Environmentalists, bicyclists, and others, who opposed traffic in the park and the proposed underground garage, filed lawsuits to prevent the construction of another museum in the park.
The de Young descendants, who include the McEvoy, Martin, Goodyear, Tobin, Spalding, and Thieriot families, lobbied in favor of the “Keep the de Young in the Park Coalition” in the spirit of its founder.
Public forums and hearings were numerous and contentious. In office at the time was Mayor Willie Brown, who dedicated himself to finding a solution. Finally, the board made the bold decision to demolish the old Spanish Colonial and Egyptian style buildings and replace them with a brand-new museum in the same location.
The museum then went to the public for funding. However, after two bond issues were narrowly defeated, the future of the de Young was in limbo. Nevertheless, Board President Dede Wilsey stepped up to the plate and pledged that they would re-build the public de Young Museum with private money.
On December 31, 2000, the historic de Young closed its doors forever.
Family Party – Dinner Honoring the Family of Donors
Everyone had been waiting for years for the 21st Century de Young. Wanting to include so many friends and supporters in the celebration, the museum planned a series of pre-opening soirees rather than one exclusive bash.
The first dinner honored 200 patrons who donated $250,000 or more. For the 500 generous supporters of the arts who contributed $2,500 plus, there was a FAMily dinner. Dede Wilsey greeted these guests in a chocolate brown ball gown from her favorite designer Oscar de la Renta. She accessorized, of course, with her trademark suite of jewels — illustrating that when it comes to diamonds, bigger is definitely better!
“Tonight the town is in the palm of her hand,” gushed one guest in the crowd. Dede certainly deserved the compliment for her dogged determination. Even after all of the preparation, she appeared tireless, genuinely enjoying every moment.
After viewing the museum and its collection, the guests headed to dinner in a transparent tent with stunning views of the gardens. Kudos go to event designer Lewis Sykes and floral designer Michael Daigian for the stunning modern décor. Using handcrafted copper pipes –— mimicking the building’s copper façade — they created tree-like candelabras placed on chocolate-brown skirted tables (maybe to coordinate with Dede’s dress).