California: San Francisco: What to See & Do: Museums & Galleries: De Young Museum
De Young Museum
I never thought I would find a museum as architecturally gorgeous as the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris. And I didn’t—until the de Young Museum reopened, in October 2005. After suffering serious damage in the 1989 earthquake, the structure was saved by a $202 million renovation, thanks to a fund-raising campaign driven almost entirely by San Francisco philanthropist Dede Wilsey. The all-copper museum building, designed by the Swiss firm Herzog & de Meuron, is seamlessly integrated into Golden Gate Park, with plants and sculpture gardens helping to merge the two. Inside is an encyclopedic collection of American art from the 1700s to the present, including paintings by George Caleb Bingham, John Singer Sargent and Edward Hopper and recently commissioned site-specific works by Ed Ruscha, Kiki Smith, Gerhard Richter and James Turrell. Also on hand are impressive collections of art from the rest of the Americas, Africa and Asia that segue beautifully from room to room. The tower’s top-floor observation deck offers panoramic views, and the ample gift shop sells everything from umbrellas to fine jewelry. This stunning monument to the arts is an absolute must for any visitor. Closed Monday.
Tip: The beloved series “Friday Nights at the de Young” (from 5 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.) features cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, tours, live music, dance, films and lots of young movers and shakers.