In San Francisco, the arts are open and art is everywhere. Now that they are ready to welcome you back, it’s time to decide how you want to experience San Francisco culture on your next visit. Use this handy guide to learn which experiences are available to you and start planning today!
Of course, the first thing you should do is sign our Safe Travel Pledge to show your fellow travelers that you’re committed to traveling responsibly, ensuring that others can have the same experiences you do when they’re ready to travel.
San Francisco’s museums hold unmatched collections of art spanning thousands of years of history, six continents, and countless styles of expression. The city’s galleries give you a chance to look at the works of some of the most exciting creative minds on the planet. Read on to get acquainted with some of our legendary cultural powerhouses and learn how to plan your visit.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
The home for modern and contemporary art in San Francisco, and the first of its kind on the west coast, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art showcases boundary-breaking works in painting, sculpture, and photography. Explore all seven stories of the building, which is itself a piece of architectural wonder. Find out what you need to know about new visiting protocols, then book your tickets.
The de Young Museum
Located in beautiful Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum houses American artworks from the 17th to 21st centuries. Global galleries of photography, costumes, and textiles highlight work from Africa and Oceania. Currently, the de Young is exhibiting a collection of Frida Khalo’s personal belongings, as well as “Uncanny Valley: Being Human in the Age of AI”. Learn about the de Young’s safety rules since reopening, then book your tickets.
The Asian Art Museum
Home to works that span 6,000 years of Asian history, the Asian Art Museum is a true gem among San Francisco’s cultural institutions. With a new expansion slated to open in 2021, there will be more room than ever before for its expansive collection. Find out how they’ve prepared to welcome visitors back before booking your tickets.
The Museum of Craft & Design
Located in one of San Francisco’s craftiest neighborhoods, the Museum of Craft & Design is dedicated to the way we make art in our world. Showcasing works done with the most traditional of tools as well as those on the cutting edge (no pun intended), the Museum of Craft & Design is sure to inspire your own creativity. Check out “MOTO MMXX,” their current exhibition showcasing some truly outrageous custom motorcycles. Get familiar with their new rules before booking your tickets today.
Legion of Honor
This neo-classical shrine to fallen soldiers houses 4,000 years of ancient and European painting, sculpture, and furniture. Located in Lincoln Park, the Legion of Honor’s incredible collection inside is matched by its unbelievable views outside. From here, you can see the Golden Gate Bridge, the Marin Headlands, and the Pacific Ocean at breathtaking angles. Book your tickets ahead of time. Reopening Oct. 30.
History & Nature
The California Academy of Sciences
Explore the natural world at the Academy, which houses a rainforest, an aquarium, a planetarium, and more, all under one (living) roof. New rules ensure visitor safety while still allowing you to experience most of the Academy’s most fascinating exhibits. Learn how to plan your visit before booking your tickets ahead of time.
The GLBT History Museum
A monument to the history of the gay rights struggle in America, the GLBT History Museum sits proudly in the Castro, San Francisco’s legendary “gayborhood”. You can explore its extensive archives all year round since Pride is a permanent state of mind in San Francisco. Plan your visit now.
Contemporary Jewish Museum
Celebrating the history, tradition, and culture of the Jewish community, both here in San Francisco and around the world, the Contemporary Jewish Museum features rotating exhibitions of works by Jewish artists, cartoonists, filmmakers, and fashion icons. Currently, you can see the photography of Stephen Berkman in his tribute to Shimmel Zohar, a mythical nineteenth-century Jewish immigrant photographer and founder of Zohar Studios.
You don’t have to go indoors to see great art in San Francisco. Murals, sculptures, and light art installations can be found in every neighborhood of the city and can be enjoyed for free.
The Women’s Building
A cornerstone of the community on 18th Street, The Women’s Building’s entire three-story facade is covered in detailed artwork that celebrates women leaders in the fields of politics, art, science, and social justice.
Precita Eyes Mural Arts and Visitor Center
Start your exploration of the Mission District’s abundant outdoor murals at Precita Eyes. The staff of this community-based non-profit can give you terrific tips for a self-guided tour of neighborhood artworks and other favorite local haunts.
Murals first appeared along the Mission’s Balmy Alley in the 1980s in response to human rights violations and political corruption in central America. Today, the themes of the artwork here have expanded to include gentrification and government injustice. You’ll find Balmy Alley between 24th and 25th streets, and Treat and Harrison streets.
Clarion Alley is known for community and arts activities. This collection of murals reflects a variety of artistic styles and often depicts themes of social inclusiveness. More than 700 murals have been created since 1992, speaking to community concerns of social, economic, and environmental justice. You can find Clarion Alley between 17th and 18th streets, and Mission and Valencia streets.
A former military installation, this enormous park at the northern edge of San Francisco features hiking and biking trails that include outdoor artwork. Andy Goldsworthy is a master of creating using only natural materials, and his four artworks scattered across the Presidio’s grounds make for a truly fun artistic scavenger hunt.
Delight in the longest nights of the year in San Francisco. Illuminate SF is a collection of large-scale light art installations that span the city and turn our long winter evenings into bright and bold spectacles. Coming this November.