Sophisticated San Francisco, California, just might have it all (except real estate to spare). It’s big, but not too big, it has pretty parks, it’s home to a mix of conservative suits and well, not so conservative sorts and collectively, boasts a thriving cultural scene that alone would justify the trip. There’s a lot to see and do in the heart of the city, not so much that you really need a week but enough to keep you consistently busy for several very full days at least. Let’s say you only have a long weekend to spare, and your goal is to see some of the most important fine art sights this city has to offer.
A good place to start is the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum in Golden Gate Park. Not only is the new museum building (of Herzog and Meuron design) pretty hip but so is the collection, which includes a sweeping selection of American artworks as well as textiles, International Contemporary and Oceanic art.
Next stop: the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park. Formerly the home of wealthy San Francisco patrons of the arts, this impressive mansion now showcases a collection that includes the works of famous European artists from the 14th to 20th centuries.
Mario Botta designed the attention-getting building that houses the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), over on Third Street, but don’t stand gaping outside indefinitely. Get inside and check out SFMOMA’s well-curated collection of Contemporary art. Do keep an eye on the exhibition calendar at nearby Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, too; they often have edgy exhibits definitely worth a peak. Just up the street is the Museum of Craft and Folk Art, where there’s also a good range of changing exhibits as well as a Craft Bar, where you can indulge in a bit of constructive creativity. Around the corner is the Cartoon Art Museum, which hosts a wide variety of changing exhibits featuring everything from political cartoons to more classic cartoon characters.
And finally, if Asian Art is your thing, don’t miss the very large collection at the Asian Art Museum; you’ll find both historic artifacts and fine examples of Contemporary art from Asia on show.
Really, if a weekend of museum trolling in San Francisco, California, doesn’t leave you inspired (albeit a little foot sore), it’s likely nothing will. Grouch.