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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA

An In-Depth Guide to SF's Crown Jewel Art Museum


The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art - SFMOMA
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With it's ultra-modern red brick facade and it's massive space-age turret that pokes up into the city skyline like a giant search-light, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is one of the top architectural marvels of the city. Inside, the five-story museum holds a massive collection of modern and contemporary art within multiple galleries as well as a slew of other attractions including a gourmet cafe, book store, rooftop gardens and a research library. Give yourself the better part of the day for exploring the SFMOMA, as it holds a seemingly never-ending wealth of artistic treasures.

Visiting the SFMOMA

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is located in the South of Market area (SOMA) of San Francisco, just a few blocks from Union Square and across the street from the Yerba Buena Gardens complex. It is easily accessible by public transit from anywhere in the bay area as it lies just one block south of Market Street, where the major Muni and BART stations as well as the Historic Streetcar are located.
  • Address: 151 Third Street, San Francisco, CA

  • Hours: Friday through Tuesday 11am till 5:45pm, Thursday 11am til 8:45pm and closed on Wednesdays.

  • Admission: Adults $18, Seniors $12, Students $11 and Kids under 11 Free. SFMOMA is Free of admission charges the first Tuesday of each month.

    Heavily discounted tickets are also included in the San Francisco City Pass, which bundles the admission for 5 different major San Francisco attractions plus transportation for seven days into one low price.

  • Tours: Docent lead tours begin four times a day and are free with museum admission. Audio self guided tours are also available for a fee.

  • Contact Info: (415)357-4000 www.sfmoma.org

Galleries and Exhibits at SFMOMA

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art hosts a permanent collection that includes over 27,000 individual works of modern and contemporary art. These are divided into 4 main areas:
  • Painting and Sculpture: The works of modern masters like Mark Rothko, Constantin Brancusi, Pablo Picasso, Frida Kahlo and more make up large part of the 'permanent collection. Particular attention is given to influential California artists and the West Coast in general.

  • Photography: The SFMOMA was one of the first art museums in the world to recognize photography as a legitimate art form. This was due in part to the fact that the San Francisco Art Institute became the first art school in the country to offer fine arts degrees in the medium, under the leadership of Ansel Adams. Works by Adams as well as other prominent western photographers are an important part of the museum's collection.

  • Architecture and Design: Multiple displays of cutting-edge building, home and furniture design are housed in the SFMOMA, including special exhibits on important bay area architects and designers like Bernard Maybeck, who designed the Palace of Fine Arts.

  • Media Arts: One of the nation's largest collections of film, video, slide and computer based artistic exhibits is housed in the SFMOMA. Many of these works are interactive and occupy entire rooms or areas of the museum.

The SFMOMA Rooftop Garden and Cafe

Connected to the galleries on the 5th floor of the museum by way of a glass enclosed bridge, the rooftop garden is a sculpture-studded green-space that offers sweeping views of the San Francisco skyline.

The rooftop garden is also home to the Blue Bottle Coffee Bar, which serves coffee, tea, pastries and light fare in one of the most picturesque locations in the entire city.

The SFMOMA for Kids

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has several programs in place that attempt to make the museum experience more attractive and fun for children:
  • Family Sundays: A special family-friendly tour of the museum takes place each Sunday at 1pm and is followed by activities like book readings and film screenings that are aimed at the little ones.

  • The Country Dog Gentlemen Travel to Extraordinary Worlds: This interactive exhibit is located in the Koret Visitors Center and utilizes the fantastical dogs from Roy De Forest's famous painting Country Dog Gentlemen to lead children on an exploration of some of the museums most popular art pieces.

The SFMOMA Museum Store

This massive book and gift store is well stocked with coffee table art books, clothing imprinted with famous paintings and designs, children's toys and games, household items and other memorabilia from the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

Special Events at SFMOMA

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is an important and integral part of San Francisco's cultural scene and maintains a large roster of film screenings, gallery talks, book signings and even daily video screenings that are open to the public and often are free of charge. Check the online calendar for current and upcoming events at SFMOMA.

History of the SFMOMA

The current San Francisco Museum of Modern Art building was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta and opened in 1995. Before that, the museum was housed in the San Francisco Civic Center, across the street from City Hall in the War Memorial Veteran's Building on Van Ness Avenue. The current modern building holds over 200,000 square feet of exhibit space and features a large circular atrium in the center that holds the structures stairway. Plans are already underway to expand the SFMOMA and add considerable space and amenities to its already massive-scale holdings.
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