Discover San Francisco's de Young Museum | San Francisco Travel
Exterior of de Young Museum

Discover San Francisco's de Young Museum

Looking for a cultural experience in San Francisco? Visit the de Young Museum and be amazed by its stunning art collections. Start planning your trip now!

Sitting in the heart of Golden Gate Park, the de Young is home to an extensive collection of American art, as well as textiles, and artifacts from around the world. The de Young is also renowned for its special art exhibitions, which feature cutting-edge works from a variety of respected artists.

One of the most striking features of the de Young is its exterior. The museum's copper-clad design is a stunning work of art in its own right, and the iconic, twisting observation tower offers breathtaking views of San Francisco and the surrounding area.

Ranking as one of the most visited museums in the United States, the de Young is a must-visit for their world class collection, as well as their fantastic space and location.

History of the De Young

The de Young was first called the Fine Arts Building and was the only permanent building constructed for the California Midwinter International Exposition in Golden Gate Park in 1894. The chair of the exposition organizing committee was Michael H. de Young, co-founder of the San Francisco Chronicle and the museum's namesake. With his support, the de Young opened to the public as a memorial museum on March 23, 1895.

The de Young has become one of the most visited museums in America, housing American art, international textile arts and costumes, African art, and Oceanic art.

Art Collections

Costume and Textile Arts

The de Young museum has a vast collection of costume and textile arts that covers almost 3,000 years of history and includes items from 125 different countries. This collection establishes connections between cultures and enriches other areas of the museum's permanent collection. Currently on view is Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style, which includes work from iconic houses and designers such as: Christian Dior, Alexander McQueen, Christopher John Rogers, Comme des Garçons, and Rodarte.

American Art, 18th-20th Centuries

The American art collections at the de Young include paintings, sculptures, and decor. These astounding pieces have been created by a range of artists, including those of Native ancestry, early European settlers, enslaved Africans and their descendants, as well as immigrants and their succeeding generations. The unique perspectives of these artists represent the diverse nature of the American experience, offering a glimpse into the nation's rich cultural heritage. Go to gallery 026 to view Rainy Season in the Tropics, by Frederic Edwin Church and 012 to view Two Women and Child by Diego Rivera.

Arts of Africa

The African art collection at the de Young is home to nearly 300 rare and unique works, from figurines dating back to the 11th century to contemporary African sculpture. Don't miss work from contemporary artist El Anatsui who creates his pieces from found materials. 

Arts of Oceania

The de Young museum has been showcasing Oceanic art since it first opened in 1895. The collection represents more than 25 islands and island groups, including the vast Pacific triangle (ranging from Easter Island to Hawaii and New Zealand), as well as Indonesia and the Philippines. Make sure to view the varied case of spiritual figures in gallery 030. 

Arts of the Americas 

This collection showcases a diverse range of Indigenous art from pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica and western North America. The collection features a variety of pieces that highlight the artistic achievements of individuals separated by great distances of both time and space. Check out both the historical and ancestral pueblo pottery. Selections from the Art of the Americas collections are on view in de Young Galleries 1 to 4.

Modern and Contemporary Art

This part of the museum's collection is the newest and includes a diverse range of contemporary and modern art from around the world. Go outside to the sculpture garden to see Pierre Huyghe's, Exomind (Deep Water) crouching among the ferns. 

Special Exhibition Galleries

The de Young also has special exhibitions you can view aside from their permanent collection. You can find the calendar of upcoming exhibitions here. Popular past exhibitions include, Kehinde Wiley: An Archaeology of Silence, Ramses The Great and the Gold of the Pharaohs, and Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving.

Architecture at the de Young

The de Young museum was originally built in an Egyptian revival style, featuring depictions of the Egyptian cow goddess, Hathor, on its exterior. However, the salty Pacific Ocean air was causing these elaborate decorations to rust. They were removed by the late 1940s, and the facade remained plain for the next 50 years.

In October, the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron completed the current design of the de Young museum. The designers retained historic elements from the former building, including the sphinxes, the original palm trees, and the Pool of Enchantment. The designers were mindful of the surrounding landscape and ensured that the building blended well with its surroundings.

The entire exterior of the de Young is now covered in 163,118 square feet of copper plates. These plates are expected to oxidize over time and take on a greenish tint, similar to the nearby eucalyptus trees.

Outside the de Young Museum and pond

Visiting the de Young Museum

Planning a visit to the de Young Museum? Here’s everything you need to know about its location, operating hours, admission fees, and some tips to enhance your experience.

Location and Directions

Address: 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr

The de Young Museum is located in Golden Gate Park, across from the California Academy of Sciences.

Where to Park

There is a limited amount of street parking available on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Blue Heron Lake Drive, Fulton Street, and the nearby avenues.

Paid parking for cars and bicycles is available in the Music Concourse Garage. Access to the garage is available at Fulton Street and 10th Avenue on the north side, and at Concourse Drive near the California Academy of Sciences from the south.

Learn more here.

Getting There

The de Young encourages patrons to take public transportation, walk, or bike to the museum.

The following Muni lines are within walking distance to the de Young.

  • 44 O’Shaughnessy bus
  • 5 + 5R Fulton bus
  • 7 Haight / Noriega bus (10 minute walk to the museum)
  • 28 19th Avenue bus (10 minute walk to the museum)
  • N Judah Muni Metro (15 minute walk to the museum)

Operating Hours and Admission Fees

Tuesday to Sunday
9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.

General Admission

Adult (Age 18 to 64) $38.00  

Senior (Age 65 and over) $35.00  

Student (with valid ID) $29.00  

Youth (Age 6 to 17) $18.00

General admission to the permanent collection is free the first Tuesday of every month. You can also receive a $2 discount with proof of purchase from any Bay Area public transportation system, including BART, Muni, Caltrain, and more. Learn more about free and reduced admission here.

The de Young recommends buying your tickets in advance online. 

Image of mannequin next to painting

Hamon Tower Observation Level

From the ninth floor of Hamon Tower, there is a break in the copper tiles that cover the building, which provides an unobstructed and breathtaking 360-degree view of the Pacific Ocean, downtown San Francisco, and the lush "living roof" of the California Academy of Sciences, located just across the Music Concourse.

The Hamon Observation Tower does not require a ticket for entry

It's open Tuesday to Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Visitor Tips

Free Spaces

Wilsey Court, the de Young Museum Store, the de Young Café,and the Hamon Observation Tower do not require a ticket for entry. At 4:30 p.m. the museum offers free admission to its permanent collection. 

Finding Specific Art

If you're looking for a particular piece of artwork you can Search and view the de Young’s and Legion of Honor’s collections online. Search by title, artist, or descriptive words, and the results will show you the images and locations of specific works of art, as well as other key information.

Dining Options

The de Young Café is open Tuesday to Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., for indoor dining and outdoor dining on the Sculpture Garden Terrace, weather permitting. The café features seasonal ingredients from local vendors put on by McCalls Catering and Events. Learn more here.


Fun Things to Do Nearby

While you'll have plenty to absorb in the de Young, the museum's fantastic location in Golden Gate Park truly allows you to maximize your day.

Across from the de Young sits one of the largest natural history museums in the world, the California Academy of Sciences.

Next to the de Young is San Francisco's Japanese Tea Garden. Built as a part of the World's Fair in 1849, this beautiful and tranquil garden is a great place for an afternoon walk and cup of matcha. 

Just a 10 minute walk away, down JFK Drive, explore exotic plants in the oldest public wood-and-glass conservatory in North America at the Conservatory of Flowers.

On MLK Drive, check out the San Francisco Botanical Garden. This 55-acre space showcases more than 8,000 plants from around the world. 

Japanese Tea Garden
Japanese Tea Garden in Golden Gate Park.

Maddie Pratt's headshot
Maddie Pratt

Maddie Pratt is the Sr. Associate of Design & Content at San Francisco Travel. She grew up in nearby Marin County, just a bridge away from the City. After moving to San Francisco in 2020, she knew she'd found her home base. Maddie enjoys walks in Golden Gate Park, chowing down on dim sum and sunsets at Baker Beach.