Legion of Honor – Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Lincoln Park | 100 34th Avenue , San Francisco
California, United States
Phone: +1 415.750.3600
Website: https://legionofhonor.famsf.org/
closed on: Mondays, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day
Museum Type: Art, Decorative arts / Handicraft
Legion of Honor San Francisco courtyard 01

The Legion of Honor is a museum of fine art and decorative arts in San Francisco, California; its vast collection includes pieces dating from 2000 BC to the 20th century.

History and architecture
The museum was founded as “The California Palace of the Legion of Honor ” by philanthropists Adolph and Alma Spreckels to commemorate through arts Californian soldiers who died in World War I and opened to the public in 1924. In 1972, the Legion of Honor joined the de Young Museum to form the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

The Palace of the Legion of Honor was built on a beautiful site, overlooking the San Francisco Bay, after a design by American architect George Applegarth, who basically conceived the building as a slightly-undersized replica of the neoclassical Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris (hence the name of the museum).

Legion of Honor San Francisco Rodin Thinker courtyard

Palais de la Légion d'Honneur, Paris

Up: Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, photo by John Loo (CC BY 2.0); down: Palais de la Légion d’Honneur, Paris, photo JLPC (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Since its opening, in the museum’s courtyard, the visitors are welcomed by a full-size cast of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin; one of the 9 existing in the United States.

In 1995, after the Loma Prieta earthquake, the museum underwent a major renovation, enlargement, and anti-seismic structural upgrade.

Legion of Honor art museum San Francisco 03

Another view of the courtyard of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco, photo by apasciuto (CC BY 2.0).

The permanent collection of the Legion of Honor is mostly focuses on ancient and European art from antiquity to the 20th century and is divided into five sections.

Ancient Art
It encompasses sculptures, vases, sarcophagi, jewels, carvings, and other antique works of art from Egypt, the Near East, Greece, Etruria, and Rome.

European painting
The collection comprises some 800 paintings, dating from the 14th to the 20th century, of French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and British art. It includes works by Fra Angelico, Rembrandt van Rijn, Peter Paul Rubens, Anthony van Dyck, Joshua Reynolds, El Greco, Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Edgard Degas, Georges Braque, and Pablo Picasso, among others.

European Decorative Art & Sculpture
Along with several decorative art objects such as furniture, porcelains, tableware, and an entire French Neoclassical room (The Salon Doré), the collection includes sculptures by Benvenuto Cellini and Rodin.

Works on Paper
The collection, one of the most important in the United States in its genre, encompasses about 90,000 works on paper, including drawings, etchings, illustrated books, Japanese prints, and the complete graphic archive of the contemporary American artist Ed Ruscha. A part of the collection is also on view at the de Young Museum.

A selection from the large photographic collection of the museum, spanning the 19th and the 20th century with a particular focus on American and European artists, is displayed on rotation at the Legion of Honor and at the de Young Museum.

The building of the museum, accessible to wheelchair users, includes a restoration center, special exhibition galleries, educational spaces, a cafe, and a store.

Legion of Honor San Francisco sculpture gallery 01

Legion of Honor art museum San Francisco 01

Legion of Honor San Francisco painting gallery 01

Legion of Honor San Francisco European art gallery 01

Permanent exhibition galleries of the Legion of Honor; photos by Tiffany Silva (CC BY-NC 2.0), lilakb (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0), and Ed Bierman (CC BY 2.0).

Cover image by Keith Cuddeback (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0).

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copyright Inexhibit 2023 - ISSN: 2283-5474