The De Young Museum, Golden Gate Park, opened in 1895 as part of the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. It was housed in an Egyptian-style structure that was the Fine Arts Building for the fair. Several buildings and many decades later, the de Young showcases American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, international contemporary art, textiles, costumes, and art from the Americas, the Pacific and Africa.
The American art collection consists of over 1,000 paintings, 800 sculptures, and 3,000 decorative arts objects. With works ranging from 1670 to the present, this collection is the most comprehensive museum collection of American art in the American West. It’s among the top ten collections in the country of non-indigenous American art, and the collection continues to evolve.
In 1978, the American art collections of John D. Rockefeller III and Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller were donated. These bequests are among the museums most important works of art.
The de Young’s panorama of American art includes galleries devoted to art in the following areas: Native American and Spanish Colonial; Anglo-Colonial; Federal and Neoclassical; Victorian genre and realism; trompe l’oeil still life; the Hudson River School, Barbizon, and Tonalism; Impressionism and the Ashcan School; Arts and Crafts; Modernism; Social Realism and American Scene; Surrealism and Abstraction; Beat, Pop, and Figurative; and contemporary.
Art made in California from the Gold Rush era to the present day is also on display in the de Young Museum. Important California collections with national significance include examples of Spanish colonial, Arts and Crafts, and Bay Area Figurative and Assemblage art.
Since 1991, the American Art Department has housed a set of the Smithsonian Institution’s Archives of American Art microfilm collection. The American Art Study Center is the most important research center for American art on the West Coast.
In 1988, the Fine Arts Museums decided to collect international, contemporary art. This has expanded the Museums’ holdings of works in new or multiple media, including installation and conceptual works, video and other time-based media, and photography and other lens-based media––to more accurately reflect contemporary art practice.
The twisting 144-foot tall tower can be seen rising above the canopy of Golden Gate Park from many areas of San Francisco. The museum offers a two-floor museum store, free access to the lobby and tower, and a full-service cafe with outdoor seating in the Osher Sculpture Garden.
Oh, wonder of wonders… Our human need to create beauty through the ages. Come and see it.