California Museums


San Francisco De Young Museum

De Young art museum designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron showcases American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, Central, South America, Pacific and Africa, as well as important textiles.
De Young Museum, 50 Tea Garden Dr - Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, CA. Tel (415) 863-3330 architecture - art - tours De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco's premier center for fine arts and entertainment, includes spectacular exhibits, furniture, textile collections and artwork on display in rotating exhibits that entice locals and visitors to come again and again.

Housed in a fairly new building (opened October 2005) that's covered with copper, this museum was founded in 1895 and has grown to include some of the finest art objects from around the globe. The copper fašade is perforated with a design that mimics dappled light filtering through a canopy of trees. The building's skin will progressively fade during a seven to ten year span from bright copper to cinnamon color, and finally will assume a rich green patina that will blend with the wooded environment of Golden Gate Park.

Passionate about the arts, San Franciscans supported the museum's efforts to re-house valuable, growing collections by helping raise over $200 million for the new facility. Even though a structure was needed to replace an earthquake-damaged facility, the new building itself is as much an artistic show piece as the works within. Little touches such as the commissioned stone crack that runs along the walkway north from the edge of the Music Concourse roadway in front of the museum, up the main walkway, into the exterior courtyard, and up to the main entrance commemorates the tectonic elements of the region. If you do not have time to visit the 105,000 square ft. museum, be sure to at least go by to see its grounds.

Broad-stroaked with the finest materials available, volcanic rock flooring and interior eucalyptus wood treatments, the new building was designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Jacques Herzog & Pierre de Meuron. The natural materials enhance themes of de Young's diverse collections―encompassing arts of the Americas, the Pacific Islands, Africa and American painting and decorative arts--in specially designed galleries that allow visitors to experience both the distinctions and the connections between the art of different cultures and eras.

The uniquely-shaped building was constructed under the guidance of San Francisco-based Fong & Chan Architects as part of the largest public arts institution in the city of San Francisco and one of the largest art museums in the United States. The 293,000-square-foot building's vertical structure is not overwhelming with its three levels of museum space, yet it returned nearly two acres of open space to Golden Gate Park through its design. A series of courtyards draw visitors and the landscape into the museum's interior while windows simultaneously provide museum goers with panoramic views of the park.

The surrounding park incorporates sphinx sculptures, Pool of Enchantment, and historic hundred-year-old palm trees seen in the photo on this page. Redwood, cypress, eucalyptus, ferns, and other native and non-native plants echo the vibrant cultures showcased throughout the museum's collections.

Inside the museum are permanent collections comprised of American art from the 17th through the 20th centuries, art from the native cultures of North, Central, and South America, art from the Pacific Islands and Africa, and textiles of many eras from throughout the world. Featuring work from nearly 30 countries, the collections are noteworthy for their pre-Columbian pieces, art from sub-Saharan Africa, Maori sculptures from New Zealand, and an encyclopedic collection of New Guinean objects of exceptional quality, many of which are on loan from John and Marcia Friede.

American paintings in the Rockefeller Collection with artists John Singleton Copley, Thomas Hart Benton, Winslow Homer, Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, Georgia O'Keeffe, Diego Rivera, Willem de Kooning, and Mark Rothko, provide breath-taking exhibits that astound guests. The de Young contains and displays in rotating exhibits more than 6,000 objects of American decorative arts and sculpture with artists Isamu Noguchi, Mark di Suvero, Claes Oldenburg and James Turrell, Paul Revere silver, furniture designs by Frank Lloyd Wright and countless rare items.

One of the unique gallery exhibits includes the oldest and best preserved sculptures from West Africa's Dogon culture. Docent-led tours are valuable in providing narration for the meaning and contextual significance of the sculptures themselves.

In addition to the museum exhibits, there's a gift store and huge book store, picnic areas outdoors and many things to see and do in San Francisco's beloved Golden Gate Park. Definitely allocate time to see the de Young Museum while visiting San Francisco. It is located at 50 Tea Garden Drive in the heart of Golden Gate Park. For public information, call (415) 863-3330 or visit

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