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Must See Art Museums in San Francisco

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While San Francisco may not be a well known art center, like New York or London, it does have a lot to offer. But, there are many great art museums in San Francisco!

Here is my list of San Francisco museums any art lover must visit on their next trip to the city.

Related Read: The Most Unusual Museums in Barcelona

Art museums in San Francisco, USA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Must See Art Museums in San Francisco

Asian Art Museum

Located in the Civic Center across from City Hall in the former library building, the Asian Art Museum houses one of the largest collections of Asian art in the Western world. While primarily focused on traditional art, the museum has done a great job of promoting contemporary artists from all across the region.  

It’s largest displays cover Indian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean art, though along the way you’ll learn about Cambodia, Iran, and many other Asian countries. Often overlooked by tourists, any trip the Asian Art museum will be free of crowds and quite enjoyable.

Book tickets online.

de Young Museum

The oldest museum in San Francisco, the de Young museum was established in 1895 as memorial to the California Midwinter International Exposition. The collection is rather eclectic, ranging from Contemporary American to African to Meso-American.  

The museum is best known for its Jolika Collection – the finest collection of New Guinea artwork in the country. They also have a strong representation of African-American artists. Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron designed the current copper-clad building, which will slowly blend into its Golden Gate Park surroundings, as the copper oxidizes and turns green.

Book tickets online.

Legion of Honor Museum

Everything that one thinks of when they imagine a museum is represented by the Legion of Honor. Perched high up on a hill with marvelous views of downtown San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge – reason enough to make the trek out there – this marble structure houses classical European artwork, stretching from the Greeks to the Impressionists.  

My favorite painting in all of San Francisco, La Tour Eiffel by Georges Seurat, can be found here. If you’re looking for that typical art museum experience, this is the place to visit.

Book tickets online.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

One of the most known art museums in San Francisco. Known as SFMOMA by locals, this was the first museum located on the West Coast to dedicate itself solely to 20th-century art when it opened in 1935.  After being promised the Fisher Collection – an outstanding collection of contemporary art gathered by Gap founders Donald and Doris Fisher – the museum is on the path to become an internationally known institution.  

Works by Jackson Pollock, Marcel Duchamp and Diego Riviera already hang in the permanent galleries, and the recently-opened rooftop cafe is decorated with fantastical sculptures.  And don’t forget to look for Waldo while you’re there!

Book tickets online.

Art museums in San Francisco, US
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

Hopefully this is more than enough for your visit, but if you’re a museum addict like myself, you should also check out the Contemporary Jewish Museum and the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts – both conveniently located across the street from SFMOMA.




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