The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is a stunning venue for experiencing art in all its urgent vitality. The permanent collection, exhibitions, and events give artistic voice to issues facing California, the United States, and beyond, and encourage visitors to engage with art as an essential part of public life through interactive installations.
Open since 1929, in 2016 the SFMOMA completed a massive expansion that nearly tripled its gallery space and opened up 45,000 square feet (4,180 square meters) of art-filled public exhibition spaces. Exhibits engage the senses through sound, light, digital arrays, and other modern tools of expression, while a continuously changing series of special exhibits examines artists at work today.
Tours of San Francisco generally stop at the MOMA, and the city’s 1-day hop-on hop-off bus tour includes museum admission, as does the San Francisco CityPass. Purchasing tickets in advance means avoiding the long entry lines, which can be profound on weekends and during special exhibits. Note that special exhibitions typically require a separate admission ticket.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The SFMOMA is a must-see for art lovers. It’s also great for families: those under 18 receive free admission; the interactive nature of the museum allows for kids to truly engage with art; and strollers may be checked out free of charge.
- Though the museum has many elevators, there are often long waits. Save time by taking the stairs.
- Dining options include a coffeeshop, a family-friendly café, and In Situ, the 1-star Michelin restaurant helmed by chef Corey Lee (reserve well in advance).
- The museum store and In Situ, both located on the first floor, do not require museum admission to access.
- The museum is fully accessible to wheelchairs. Accessibility programs are extensive, with options for the deaf or hard of hearing, persons who are blind or partially-sighted, and on the autism spectrum.
How to Get There
Situated in downtown San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood, across from Yerba Buena Gardens, SFMOMA is easily accessed via public transportation. The Montgomery BART station and MUNI lines 8, 12, 14, 30, and 45 are all two blocks from the museum’s main entrance. Parking is difficult, especially on weekends; SFMOMA’s garage, on Minna Street, is a decent option.
When to Get There
The SFMOMA is open 10am to 5pm Friday to Tuesday and 10am to 9pm Thursday; it is closed on Wednesdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Summer is the museum’s busiest season, and visiting on a summer weekend—or any holiday—can mean enduring long waits to enter, take an elevator, or stand in front of a special work of art. Thursday evenings are less crowded.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art showcases a continuing rotation of artists, exhibits, and programs, and rivals New York’s MOMA for exhibitions featuring photography. In addition to temporary shows, be sure to see the museum’s pop art collection, replete with works by Richard Artschwager, Philip Guston, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol. Other highlights include the Calder mobiles, sculptures, and models; myriad works by Robert Rauschenberg; the museum’s various outdoor terraces; Richard Serra’s Sequence; and the largest public living wall in the US.