Galleries and Art Exhibits in San Francisco

San Francisco has been called the best city in America for art students with a long and storied history as one of the nation’s art capitals, attracting artists of all ages and types for decades. Of course, that also makes it ideal for art enthusiasts, with plenty of ways to enjoy it on a visit and well-beyond for those who’ve moved into one of the San Francisco apartments for rent.

De Young Museum

Located in Golden Gate Park, the de Young Museum is a favorite among local San Franciscans and visitors alike. The oldest museum in the city, it opened its doors in 1895 and displays American works of art from the 17th- to 21st-centuries along with global galleries focused on costumes, photography, and textiles from Oceania and Africa. There are impressive temporary exhibits featured as well with the Hung Liu: Golden Gate exhibit hosted in Wilsey Court through March 13, 2022.

Hung Liu was born in 1948 in Changchun, China. A painter trained in the Socialist Realist style, she elevates her archival photograph subjects, recreating them in a grand scale, using a lyrical style of history painting. The exhibit includes reimaginings of some of Liu’s most iconic paintings like Resident Alien, which celebrates those who arrived in California, whether by land or sea, placing herself among them.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

A home for contemporary and modern art in San Francisco, this institution was the first of its kind to open on the west coast. The seven-story building, itself an architectural wonder, features boundary-breaking works in sculpture, photography, and painting. Multiple temporary exhibits can be enjoyed at any given time, such as painter Joan Mitchell, whose work will be on display through January 17, 2022.

Her critical acclaim and success began in the 1950s in New York City. Mitchell managed to break through abstract expressionist circles that were dominated by men before spending more than 30 years in France. Her abstract, distinctive works are filled with color and energy. The exhibition includes rarely seen early drawings and paintings that established her career along with pieces from her later years demonstrating her remarkable mastery of color.

The Asian Art Museum

Another gem among the city’s cultural institutions, the Asian Art Museum features 18,000 works in its permanent collection, spanning some 6,000 years of Asian history. It includes everything from ancient stones to contemporary paintings.

Its Seeing Gender exhibit will open on January 14, 2022. The focused selection of pieces will reveal the nuances and complexities of gender across Asian art.

Alternative Spaces in SoMa

Discover a cross-section of the art world few tourists see by heading to the SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood. Near 7th street in the southwest area, you can view works focused on outstanding emerging artists at Alter Space which has a unique jail-cell residency program.

The nonprofit Root Division gallery on Mission Street has a local focus, serving the community as a hybrid art gallery with classes and working studios.

Pier 24 Photography

Located beneath the Bay Bridge between the Fire Station and Pier 26, Pier 24 Photography showcases the incredible Pilara Foundation’s collection along with ambitious, accessible shows of contemporary and historic photography.

In order to view the works here, you’ll need to make a reservation in advance, but admission is free.