11 Inspiring Art Exhibits in San Francisco Right Now

Gwyneth Paltrow has recently been spotted checking out San Francisco’s art scene, and so should you.

If you haven’t been diving into the local art culture, then you have plenty of aesthetically-invigorating things to look forward to. Every year, San Fransisco’s fine arts museums receive an influx of world-class installations that inspire the masses, such as last year’s Oscar de le Renta retrospective at the de Young and the Grace Jones exhibition at the Museum of the African Diaspora.

Given the international stature of San Francisco, it’s a given that the City will continue to attract remarkable art, as evidenced by the many new and exciting installations flowering across town. However, these fabulous art-pportunities are only temporary.

Lest you choose to be riddled with FOMO, you owe yourself the indulgence of cultural consumption before the clock runs out. Not only will attending art exhibits give you sophisticated talking points at happy hour, you’ll also find prolific Instagram editorial opportunities that guarantee a high volume of likes. Just check out all the bathroom selfies taken at SFMOMA on Instagram.

So, yeah, get your art on. It’s time-sensitive.

Need help mapping out your San Fransisco tour-de-museum? Check out our guide to current art exhibits in San Francisco:

De Young promo for the Summer of Love exhibit. Photo: summerof.love
Victor Moscoso, “Incredible Poetry Reading.” At the De Young’s Summer of Love exhibit. Photo: summerof.love

The Summer of Love Experience: Art, Fashion, and Rock & Roll
This season, a group of cultural, civic, social service, and health advocacy organizations have collaborated to create several exhibits that commemorate and celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Summer of Love, underscoring this iconic period’s relevance to current events. The De Young Museum’s exhibit is the highlight of this City-wide series.  This exhibit revisits the counterculture movement that blossomed in San Francisco in the summer of 1967, showcasing the unique music, fashion, and art of this politically-charged period. This installation commemorates an “only in San Francisco” social and aesthetic movement. Ends August 20th.
$25 for non-member adults | De Young Museum | 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA
Hours: Tuesday–Thursday: 9:30AM–5:15PM
Website: deyoung.famsf.org

The Green Wave. Claude Monet, circa 1871. Photo: metmuseum.org
The Green Wave. Claude Monet, circa 1871. Photo: metmuseum.org

Monet: the Early Years
As discussed in the acclaimed film Clueless, it is necessary to see a work of Monet up-close in order to fully experience the nuances therein. This exhibit, the first of its kind in the US, is devoted to the initial phase of Claude Monet’s career, studying the French painter’s mastery before Impressionism. Ends May 29th.
$35 for non-member adults | Legion of Honor | 100 34th Avenue, San Francisco, CA
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday: 9:30AM–5:15PM
Website: legionofhonor.famsf.org

Left: Matisse. Right: Diebenkorn. Photo: sfmoma.org
Left: Matisse. Right: Diebenkorn. Photo: sfmoma.org

Gwyneth Paltrow remarked on this exhibit as “maybe [her] favorite show ever.” If you don’t believe this, check her Instagram. Or better yet, check out the exhibit that has been causing quite the stir across the City. End May 29th.
$31 for non-member adults | SFMOMA | 151 Third Street, San Francisco, CA
Hours: Friday–Tuesday: 10AM–5PM, Thursday: 10AM–9PM
Website: sfmoma.org

Tomb Treasures: New Discoveries from China’s Han Dynasty
“Royal life unearthed.” On view for the first time in the US, this exhibit displays 160 rare selections from recent excavations of the royal tombs of China’s Han dynasty. This gallery studies the royal clan’s prolific achievements in art and technology, and their construction of lavish tombs in anticipation of the afterlife. Ends May 28th.
Hours: Tuesday–Wednesday: 10AM–5PM, Thursday 10AM–9PM, Friday–Sunday: 10AM–5PM
Website: asianart.org

By Todd Gray, featured at the MoAD. Photo: moadsf.org
By Todd Gray, featured at the MoAD. Photo: moadsf.org

Love or Confusion: Jimi Hendrix in 1967
If it seems like love and 1967 are recurring themes, that’s because this Jimi Hendrix exhibit is part of the Summer of Love 50th Anniversary Celebration in relation to the De Young exhibition. The Museum of the African Diaspora has been hard-at-work for most of April in preparation for the opening of four new exhibits: Love or Confusion, Todd Gray: My Life in the Bush with MJ & Iggy, the Ease of Fiction, and Lili Bernard’s Antebellum Appropriations. Each exhibit opens April 26th and runs through the summer.
$10 General Admission | Museum of the African Diaspora | 685 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
Hours: Wednesday–Saturday: 11AM–6PM, Sunday: 12–5PM
Website: moadsf.org

From Lynn Hershman's Civic Radar, on view at the YBCA. Photo: ybca.org
From Lynn Hershman’s Civic Radar, on view at the YBCA. Photo: ybca.org

24 Hour Resistance
As part of the YBCA’s 100 Days of Action, a counter-narrative to the current administration’s 100 day plan, the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts has a free public circuit training studio to warm up “artivism” and build sustained resistance, exhibiting works to fuel civic, personal, and artistic engagement. This installation ends April 30th, but there are a couple other topical exhibits currently on view, such as Visualizing Citizenship: Seeking a New Public Imagination (open through June 18th), which explores the tensions surrounding the US-Mexico border, and Civic Radar (open through May 21st), a gendered retrospective that investigates identity. While the Resistance exhibit is free, Visualizing Citizenship and Civic Duty are $10 for standard tickets.
Free | Yerba Buena Center for the Arts | 701 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA
Hours: Tuesday–Sunday: 11AM–6PM
Website: ybca.org

Tramas Urbanas
In partnership with the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores de México and the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco, Tramas Uranas is a collection of abstract sculptures and handmade textiles by artist Paloma Torres, inspired by the artist’s own aerial photography of Mexico City. This visually provocative exhibit studies how cultural intersectionality advances society. Ends May 28th.
Free | The Mexican Museum | 2 Marina Boulevard, Building D, San Francisco, CA
Hours: Thursday–Sunday: 12–4PM
Website: mexicanmuseum.org

Henrik Olesen, the Box, 2017. Currently on view at CCA's Wattis Institute. Photo: wattis.org
Henrik Olesen, the Box, 2017. Currently on view at CCA’s Wattis Institute. Photo: wattis.org

Henrik Olesen: the Walk
Artist Henrik Olsen creates a site-specific installation of new and existing works. The central theme is dirt. As such, Olsen’s project dirties the neatness of conceptual art, using dirt as a productive and emancipatory force in the face of normativity. Ends May 24th.
Free | CAA Wattis Institute | 360 Kansas Street, San Francisco, CA

Hours: Tuesday–Friday: 12–7PM, Saturday: 12–5PM
Website: wattiss.org

Deja View: the Art of Andreas Deja
This is an exploration of the prolific career of the Disney character animator Andreas Deja, who has drawn famous characters such as Scar, Jafar, Gaston, and Hercules. This exhibition displays the original works on paper and maquettes, located in the museum’s Theater Gallery. Ends October 4th.
$25 for non-member adults | Walt Disney Museum | 104 Montgomery Street in the Presidio, San Francisco, CA
10AM–6PM daily, excluding Tuesdays.
Website: waltdisney.org

A still from Kenneth Anger's film "Pleasure Dome," featured at the GLBT Museum. Photo: glbthistory.org
A still from Kenneth Anger’s film “Pleasure Dome,” featured at the GLBT Museum. Photo: glbthistory.org

Lavender Tinted-Glasses: A Groovy, Gay Look at the Summer of Love
The gay counterpart to the City-wide celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. This exhibit examines the LGBT community’s story during this period by highlighting the roles of four relevant queers: poet Allen Ginsberg, filmmaker Kenneth Anger, philosopher Gavin Arthur, and rock star Janis Joplin. Ends September 27th.
$5 General Admission | GLBT History Museum | 4127 18th Street, San Francisco, CA
Hours: Monday, Wednesday–Saturday: 11AM–6PM, Sunday: 12–5PM
Website: glbthistory.org

On the Road to the Summer of Love
In conjunction with the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, this ambitious exhibition tells the story of the counterculture movement in San Francisco through photography. This exhibit takes a look at how San Francisco was central to this social revolution and explores a range of cultural contexts from the Beatnik poets to the experimental art scene. Runs from May 12th through September 10th. 
$5 | California Historical Society | 678 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA

Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 11AM – 5PM



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