The San Francisco Museums You Won't Want To Miss

Never before have there been so many choices in world-class museums in San Francisco. Although the de Young Museum has been around for a century, the old structure (not earthquake-friendly) was replaced with a sparkling new building that is a jewel in the crown of Golden Gate Park. Another park jewel is the California Academy of Sciences with loads of dynamic hands-on activities for all ages.

Two SF city passes include free entry to the top museums.

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The Museum of Modern Art (SF-MoMA) recently completed a massive five-and-a-half acre expansion. Also not to miss are the Pan-Asian offerings at the Asian Art Museum, following art for 6,000 years from countries stretching from Japan to the western tip of the continent.


de Young Museum

de Young Museum

The new de Young Museum (completely rebuilt in the 2000s following damage sustained in the earthquake) creates a harmony between modern architecture and the natural landscape of the Golden Gate Park.

The permanent collection includes important works in the California School of Painting as well as art from around the world. And the building itself is a work of art not to be missed.

SF MoMA – The Museum of Modern Art

The Museum of Modern Art

This magnificent museum of modern art includes art from around the globe, including paintings from French and American masters.

When it was rebuilt and moved to its present location in 1995 it changed the face of downtown and became an vital step to positive change in central San Francisco. Now, after an even bigger, more radical, and more magnificent expansion, the museum is more extensive than ever.


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Asian Art Museum

Asian Art Museum

In San Francisco you can visit one of the world's largest collections of Asian art, geographically spanning China, India, Persia, Southeast Asia, Korea and Japan.

Highlights of the permanent collection include the oldest dated Chinese Buddha in the world, dating from 336 CE.

California Academy of Sciences

California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences was named by Condé Nast Traveler one of the New Wonders of the World. It's also the greenest museum in the world with a four-storey rainforest, coral reef exhibits and a 2½-acre living roof of native grasses. There are plenty of hands-on exhibits like feeding penguins and piranhas.

But, it's not all for kids. You might want to take part in one of the evening adults-only VIP cocktail tours of the museum.

The Legion of Honor

Legion of Honor

This Beaux-Arts building, a three-quarter copy of the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur in Paris (next to the Muséee d'Orsay), hold over 100,000 works of important art, spanning a period from the Ancient World up to modern photography.

The Legion of Honor has a wonderful location in Lincoln Park in the northwest corner of San Francisco and it most definitely a place you want to visit. Ever hear of Rodin's The Thinker? You'll find it here.

The Exploratorium

The Exploratorium

The Exploratorium in San Francisco is a playful learning laboratory created by famous physicist Frank Oppenheimer and is the perfect place to take curoius children and interested adults. Located in the center of the action on the Embarcadero, on Pier 15, it's an easy place to get to if you're visiting Fisherman's Wharf or catching a ferry.

With six major galleries and lots of special exhibits, the Exploratorium is worth a full day's visit. Read our guide to find out all you need to know.

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