Thanks to the big bucks of a few deep-pocketed anonymous donors, 21 San Francisco arts and cultural institutions will offer free admission on Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 3 and 4.
Dubbed “San Francisco Free Museum Weekend,” the two-day event will waive admission to some of the city’s most prestigious and popular arts institutions, including SFMOMA, the de Young, the Legion of Honor and the Asian Art Museum. But there are some lesser-known gems like the Letterform Archive and newly opened Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco that should also be on your itinerary.
So mark your calendars! Here are a few museums and exhibitions you won’t want to miss. Reservations are encouraged, so snag your tickets soon at sffreemmuseum.com.
151 Third St.
Free Dec. 4
Take the opportunity to explore SFMOMA’s seven floors of edgy art and get access to the museum’s special exhibitions, including Diego Rivera’s America and a retrospective on barrier-breaking Bay Area figurative artist Joan Brown. The born-and-bred San Franciscan put a stamp on the local scene through her contemplative self-portraits, scenes of the bay and whimsical depictions of animals.
de Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park
Legion of Honor
100 34th Ave., Lincoln Park
Free Dec. 3
Free or not, the de Young and Legion of Honor are safe and classic bets to get your art fix. Explore an eclectic mix of art at the de Young, which displays everything from quirky contemporary sculptures to the art of Oceania, or immerse yourself in the rich world of European painting and sculpture at the Legion of Honor. Special exhibition charges may apply at the de Young, but if you haven’t seen a sarcophagus up close in a while, it might be worth checking out Ramses the Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs.
200 Larkin St.
Free Dec. 4
The Asian Art Museum is free on first Sundays and offers discounted admission ($10) to special exhibitions on those days. But the Sunday of Free Museum Weekend (Dec. 4), the museum’s special exhibition on SF activist-artist Bernice Bing will also be free. You’ll have the chance to not only see some calligraphy-inspired abstractions and other never-before-seen works by Bing but also celebrate the artist as part of the museum’s family fun and storytelling day.
2325 Third St., Floor 4R
Free Dec. 3
This is a must for graphic design and typography enthusiasts. Dogpatch’s Letterform Archive holds over 100,000 items related to lettering, typography, calligraphy and graphic design and has held everything from exhibitions on the art of the protest poster to workshops on type design. Although general admission is only $10 most days, this is your chance to pop into the small but mighty exhibition space for free and check out its amazing collections of fonts.
685 Mission St.
Free, Dec. 4
Since 2005, MoAD has celebrated Black culture through art exhibitions, activations and cultural programming. Stop in for the first (and only) West Coast exhibition of The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion, which highlights the work of 15 contemporary fashion photographers from London, Lagos, New York and Johannesburg. Among the images on display is work by Tyler Mitchell, the first Black photographer hired to shoot a cover story for American Vogue.
Full List of Free Museums
Saturday, Dec. 3
- de Young Museum
- Legion of Honor
- Cartoon Art Museum
- Museum of Craft and Design
- Walt Disney Family Museum
- California Academy of Sciences
- GLBT Historical Society Museum
- American Bookbinders Museum
- Letterform Archive
- SF Camerawork
- McEvoy Foundation for the Arts
- Truhlsen-Marmor Museum of the Eye
- Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco
- Minnesota Street Project
Sunday, Dec. 4
- Contemporary Jewish Museum
- Museum of the African Diaspora
- Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
- Children’s Creativity Museum
- Asian Art Museum
Christina Campodonico can be reached at [email protected]