Mr. Roboto, 2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Photo by Henrik Kam.
Mr. Roboto, 2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Credit: Henrik Kam

Your Guide to
San Francisco's Museums and Galleries This Spring

Explore inspiring exhibitions from esteemed creators of the past and present at these San Francisco institutions.

San Francisco is home to dozens of must-see museums and acclaimed art galleries. Need help deciding which to visit during your stay? No problem! We’ve gathered the goods on the most exciting exhibitions on display across the city this spring. Keep reading to learn more and buy your tickets.

Asian Art Museum

200 Larkin St.

Deities, Paragons, and Legends: Storytelling in Chinese Pictorial Arts

This collection of paintings, textiles, and lacquerware depicts famous historical stories, romantic tales, and myths of gods and heroes in Chinese art. These images, rich in history and symbolism, have long served to educate, entertain, and inspire various audiences across generations. The paintings are marked with the seals of Lai’an, a monk artist from the late 13th century. Chinese Chan (Zen) art, characterized by showing a single object against a spacious background, had a great impact on Japanese art during the 12th and 13th centuries. On display now through July 8.

Into View: New Voices, New Stories

On display now through Oct. 17, Into View: New Voices, New Stories at the Asian Art Museum showcases artworks acquired from local and global contemporary artists who challenge norms by reshaping familiar tales, stereotypes, and techniques. These works explore diverse themes like cosmology, mythology, and political unrest. Visitors are encouraged to engage actively, with a book library and reading group discussions, offering a space for learning and dialogue.

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The Asian Art Museum's current exhibition, "Deites, Paragons, and Legends".
The Asian Art Museum's current exhibition, "Deites, Paragons, and Legends". Credit: Asian Art Museum

Berggruen Gallery

10 Hawthorne St.

Paul Kremer: Straight Loops

On view through Apr. 25, Paul Kremer's solo exhibition includes recent paintings and paper works. Kremer connects organic and graphic forms, blending biology and geometry. For this exhibition, he loops together work from the present and the past, creating fresh compositions that reflect the relationships between curved and straight lines. Admission is free.

Paul Kremer's "Bloom 25", on display at the Berggruen Gallery
Paul Kremer's "Bloom 25", on display at the Berggruen Gallery Credit: Berggruen Gallery

California Academy of Sciences

55 Music Concourse Dr.


Every Thursday, the California Academy of Science invites visitors (21+) to a vibrant evening of dancing and musical performances, participating in thought-provoking talks and presentations, and a visit with Claude, the resident albino alligator. And to ensure you're having a fabulous night, the café and bars at NightLife serve pizzas, pastas, specialty cocktails, craft beer, and delicious wines.

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Children's Creativity Museum

221 Fourth St.

Art & Design Intertwined

In this exhibition, the entire family can discover innovative ways to engage with others through art and design. It aims to facilitate exploration and connection in three interactive spaces. At ArtLab, visitors can collaborate on creating artwork and explore diverse forms of expression. DesignIt! Studio offers challenges to solve and opportunities to prototype with various materials. Lastly, the Community Garden allows visitors of all ages to contribute to a digital flower garden, fostering a shared creative environment for everyone.

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Contemporary Jewish Museum

736 Mission St.

First Light: Rituals of Glass and Neon Art

This exhibition delves into the pursuit of mastery in craftsmanship, showcasing stunning artworks that evoke spirituality, wonder, and profound questions about human existence. The featured artists employ both science and art to explore the universe's mysteries through neon, glass, and plasma artworks. Visitors are invited to explore intriguing scientific processes and contemplate the role of light in our quest for understanding our place in our cosmos. On view now through Apr. 28.

Radiant Practices: Illuminating Jewish Traditions

This exhibition explores the significant role of light in Jewish life and ritual throughout history and in contemporary practice. Explore a variety of ritual items, such as menorahs and memorial candles, which showcase traditions that use light to enrich Jewish holidays, life events, and spiritual environments. On display now through Apr. 28.

RetroBlakesberg: The Music Never Stopped

Embark on a journey through iconic moments in music history through Bay Area artist Jay Blakesberg's photography exhibition, on display through July 28. RetroBlakesberg: The Music Never Stopped showcases photographs of legendary musicians, capturing San Francisco's music scene, its evolution, and its widespread impact. The exhibition includes images of artists like the Grateful Dead, Joni Mitchell, Soundgarden, and others, accompanied by original ticket stubs, press passes, and memorabilia.

Annie Albagli: We Become [Vessels]

Local artist Annie Albagli presents an expansive video-based installation inspired by Jewish tradition, local geography, and ritual practices. We Become [Vessels] blends layered imagery and field recordings of the Marin headlands with the sound of crashing waves and Jewish ceremonial objects. Albagli's work sources from Jewish stories and local histories to break boundaries and explore how we depend on each other and our environment. On view through July 28.

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A photo from the Contemporary Jewish Museum's "RetroBlakesburg" exhibition.
A photo from the Contemporary Jewish Museum's "RetroBlakesburg" exhibition. Credit: Contemporary Jewish Museum

The de Young Museum

50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Dr.

Lee Mingwei: Rituals of Care

This first U.S. exhibition from a prominent Taiwanese American artist is on display through July 7. Featuring six projects created between 1995 and 2020, the exhibition invites visitors to participate in radical acts of generosity and intimate reflection. Lee's work explores art's potential to foster human connection and emotional healing. Through ordinary gestures turned into meaningful rituals, Lee encourages finding beauty and strength in everyday acts. Rituals of Care’s installations are accessible in both the de Young's free public spaces and its galleries dedicated to 20th and 21st-century art.

Irving Penn

Irving Penn, acclaimed as one of the 20th century’s premier photographers, is recognized for his pared-down aesthetics and masterful printing techniques. As the longest-standing contributor to Vogue, he transformed fashion photography by using simple backdrops to highlight models' personalities. While renowned for portraits and still lives, Penn's nearly 70-year career encompassed a wide array of artwork, and the Irving Penn exhibition showcases his entire career. With 196 photographs, the exhibition encompasses his early documentaries, portraits of cultural icons, workers with the tools of their trades, as well as abstract nudes and fashion studies. A special section focuses on Penn's work he completed during San Francisco's Summer of Love, including portraits of hippies, Hell’s Angels, and local bands like The Grateful Dead. On display through July 21.

Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style

Featuring more than 50 designers like Balmain, McQueen, and Miyake, Fashioning San Francisco: A Century of Style explores haute couture worn by Bay Area women, examining the relationship between style and social identity. Sourcing from the museum’s costume collection—one of the strongest in the country—the exhibition chronicles the city's style evolution. On display now through Aug. 11.

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One of Irving Penn's portraits, now on display at the de Young.
One of Irving Penn's portraits, now on display at the de Young. Credit: The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Haines Gallery

2 Marina Blvd.

Adia Millett: Reflections on Black

Reflections on Black is the Haines Gallery's first solo exhibition with Adia Millett, consisting of paintings and glass mosaics that explore literal and metaphorical darkness. For Millett, darkness symbolizes the unseen while serving as a space for reflection, deepening our senses. Millett's work draws from traditional crafts like quilting, creating abstract environments by taking apart and reassembling ideas and materials. For this exhibition, the artist collaborated with sound artist Miles Lassi, who created an immersive, inspirational soundscape based around the themes of darkness and creativity. On display now through March 9. Admission is free.

The Legion of Honor

100 34th Ave.

Japanese Prints in Transition

This exhibition showcases the evolution of Japanese printmaking from 18th-century ukiyo-e (or “floating world pictures”) to brightly colored Meiji-era woodblock prints. The exhibition features more than 140 works from the Achenbach Foundation, exploring how Western influences affected artistic production in Japan. Iconic pieces like Katsushika Hokusai's "The Great Wave" are on display alongside eight other works from his series Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. This is a rare opportunity to experience these works in person, because they aren't publicly displayed often due to their extreme light sensitivity. On display Apr. 6 – Aug. 18.

Zuan-cho: Kimono Design in Modern Japan (1868–1912)

Japanese Prints in Transition showcases books filled with colorful woodcut kimono designs called zuan-cho. These books served as a means of communication between kimono dealers, clients, and craftspeople. The exhibition, located in the Logan Gallery of Illustrated Books, primarily draws from the museum's collection, including the work of Furuya Korin, a Kyoto artist famous for his modern designs of abstract and geometric forms. On display through Aug. 25.

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Minnesota Street Project

1275 Minnesota St.

Rohini Devasher: One Hundred Thousand Suns

Seasoned eclipse chaser and amateur astronomer Rohini Devasher's first U.S. solo exhibition focuses on the simultaneous debut of a 20-minute film in three continents. The film explores four dimensions of the sun: material, ephemeral, personal, and geographic. For this, the artist used more than 157,000 portraits of the sun captured by the Kodaikanal Solar Observatory in India over the last 120 years. On view now through Mar. 24. Admission is free.

Museum of Craft and Design

2569 Third St.

Mr. Roboto

On display now through June 30, Mr. Roboto at the Museum of Craft and Design showcases how designers and robots can collaborate to invent new ways of creating the world around us. Conducted by approximately 60 San Jose State University students, the exhibition highlights a range of experiments, all with the common goal of developing designs that could not be made any other way. Mr. Roboto features more than 100 objects, including 3-D printed textiles and robotic light paintings.

Indie Folk: New Art and Sounds from the Pacific Northwest

This exhibition explores craft traditions, pre-industrial cultures, and Indigenous and settler histories through contemporary artworks by seventeen artists from the Northwest. The music genre indie folk, which was created in the Pacific Northwest, is referenced in the soundtrack that plays throughout the gallery. The exhibition showcases a wide array of styles and mediums: traditional Black folk art, glass, basketry, and large-scale installations, as well as printmaking and other practices. On display now through June 30.

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Mr. Roboto, 2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Photo by Henrik Kam.
Mr. Roboto, 2024, Museum of Craft and Design. Credit: Henrik Kam

Oakland Museum of California

100 Oak St., Oakland

Por el Pueblo: The Legacy and Influence of Malaquías Montoya

On view now through June 30, this exhibition encourages visitors to explore Malaquías Montoya's collaborative approach to art, community focus, and intergenerational engagement. Montoya is a public-serving artist, activist, and community leader, and his posters, graphic prints, and murals spotlighting political and social justice concerns have shaped the Chicano identity for almost five decades. The exhibition delves into the concept of elderhood through photographs, historical and family artifacts, early pieces by the artist, and contemporary works by artists inspired by Montoya.

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Malaquías Montoya, the subject of a new exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California.
Malaquías Montoya, the subject of a new exhibition at the Oakland Museum of California. Credit: Oakland Museum of California

San Francisco Arts Commission

401 Van Ness Ave.

Conversation 8: Harry Dodge and Alicia McCarthy

Conversation 8 showcases the collaboration between Alicia McCarthy and Harry Dodge. This series highlights the work of a local artist and that of an artist residing beyond the Bay Area. McCarthy's abstract pieces draw inspiration from punk and queer subcultures, graffiti, and folk art. Dodge's sculptures, visibly made by hand and crafted from found and made materials, evoke a sense of impermanence and explore strange places, seeking new ways to connect with others. On view now through Apr. 27. All SFAC Galleries events are free and ADA accessible.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

151 Third St.

Zanele Muholi: Eye Me

South African artist Zanele Muholi (they/them), a self-described visual activist, portrays and celebrates the Black queer community in post-Apartheid South Africa in their first West Coast exhibition. Zanele Muholi: Eye Me consists of more than 100 photos, as well as paintings, sculptures, and videos, addressing gender, representation, and race, with an emphasis on the importance of Black queer visibility. On display now through Aug. 11.

Art of Noise

From May 4 to Aug. 18, you can explore San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s music-themed and design-focused exhibition, Art of Noise. The exhibition highlights the impact of graphic and industrial design on our relationship to sound and how it makes music more meaningful by creating lasting memories. 800 artworks consisting of posters, album covers, design objects, and large-scale installations fill the seventh floor of the building, covering more than 100 years of visual aesthetics in the musical space.

Kara Walker

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art will feature artist Kara Walker's first site-specific installation in its admission-free Roberts Family Gallery this July. Known for her examination of power dynamics and exploitation of race and sexuality, Walker's work blends fantasy with sharp humor to challenge established narratives. Walker's latest project will prompt visitors to contemplate how they remember trauma and to consider the goals of technology.

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Zanele Muholi, Katlego Mashiloane and Nosipho Lavuta, Ext. 2, Lakeside, Johannesburg, from the series Being, 2007
One of Zanele Muholi's photographs now on display at SFMOMA. Credit: SFMOMA

Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

701 Mission St.

Bay Area Now 9

Now through May 5, Bay Area Now 9 (BAN9) showcases various creative expressions, spanning visual art, dance, performance, music, film, sound, new media, technology, fashion, poetry, and social practice. The exhibition will feature site-specific commissions and both new and historic works from 30 artists and collectives living and working in the Bay Area, transforming the entire YBCA campus. Additionally, several of the works on view will evolve over the course of the exhibition through community participation.

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Author Lucas Mittenentzwei
Lucas Mittenentzwei

Lucas Mittenentzwei is a digital project and content consultant. Originally from Germany, he has lived in California since 2010, calling San Francisco his home for several years. Lucas started in the hospitality industry before joining Visit California in its mission to inspire the world to visit the Golden State. He is passionate about all aspects of the travel experience, but trying new restaurants (or tried-and-true classics) is at the top of his list.