Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), comprising the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, is the largest public arts institution in the city of San Francisco. FAMSF's combined attendance was 1,158,264 visitors in 2022, making it the fifth most attended art institution in the United States.[1]

The de Young Museum, part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Legion of Honor, part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Opened in 1895, the de Young is home to American art from the 17th century through today, textile arts and costumes, African art, Oceanic art, arts of the Americas, and contemporary art. Opened in 1924, the Legion of Honor showcases European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts, ancient art, graphic arts, and contemporary art in dialogue with its historical collections and Beaux-Arts style building.[2] In total the collection holds 130,000 objects.[3]



In 1931, the two museums were informally united for the first time when Lloyd LaPage Rollins took over the directorship of the Legion of Honor and was simultaneously appointed the first director of the de Young. In 1972, under the leadership of Ian McKibbin White, the two museums were formally merged to create the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF). At that time, the permanent collections were reorganized and distinct curatorial departments were created.[4]


  • 1924-1930: Cornelia B. Sage Quinton (Legion of Honor)
  • 1931-1933: Lloyd LaPage Rollins (Legion of Honor and de Young)
  • 1933-1939: Dr. Walter Heil (Legion of Honor)
  • 1939-1961: Dr. Walter Heil (de Young)
  • 1939 -1968: Thomas Carr Howe (Legion of Honor)
  • 1970-1987: Ian Mckibbin White (FAMSF)[5]
  • 1987-2005: Harry S. Parker
  • 2006-2011: John E. Buchanan
  • 2013-2015: Colin. B Bailey
  • 2016-2018: Max Hollein
  • 2018 – Present: Thomas P. Campbell[6]



de Young Museum Main article: de Young Museum[7][circular reference]

The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition and was established as the Memorial Museum. Thirty years later, it was renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, a longtime champion of the museum. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, opened in October 2005. Walter Hood was commissioned to design the landscaping and garden courts for the new building.

Legion of Honor Main article: Legion of Honor

The Legion of Honor was inspired by the French pavilion, a replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, at San Francisco's Panama-Pacific International Exposition[8][circular reference] of 1915. The museum opened in 1924 in the Beaux Arts–style building designed by George Applegarth on a bluff overlooking the Golden Gate. In 1995, the Legion of Honor opened an expansion designed by architects Edward Larrabee Barnes and Mark Cavagnero. It increased the museum's square footage by 42 percent, including the addition of seven additional special exhibition galleries.



In early 2018, a group of staff members formed the IDEA Committee, to advocate for inclusion, diversity, equity and access to be considered in the 5 areas: staff, public programs, exhibitions, collections, and visitors.[9] In June 2020, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) took a public stance in solidarity with Black Lives Matter, and in November 2020, the institution revised its strategic plan to focus and center DEIA initiatives. In taking this action, FAMSF actively began to shift toward becoming an anti-racist organization.

Since January 2021, FAMSF has made progress in shifting hiring practices and increased the number of BIPOC staff. In doing so, the Museums realized that it needed to address the career pipeline for underrepresented groups. To overcome this barrier to diversity and equity, the Museums created four two-year fellowship positions and eight full-time paid summer internships.

In 2022, the Museums have Increased the number of staff under the age of 30 and over the age of 50 by 9 percent, as well as increased the number of BIPOC staff by 18 percent.[10]


  1. ^ "Draft minutes" (PDF). April 4, 2023. Retrieved November 30, 2023.
  2. ^ "About".
  3. ^ "Collective Conversations with Adele Barbato". March 31, 2021.
  4. ^ "Legion of Honor history".
  5. ^ "Oral history interview with Ian McKibbin White, 1987 January 8-12 | Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution".
  6. ^ "In a Museum-World Switcheroo, Former Met Director Thomas Campbell Will Head the Fine Art Museums of San Francisco". October 30, 2018.
  7. ^ De Young Museum
  8. ^ Panama–Pacific International Exposition
  9. ^ "IDEA Committee: Past, Present + Future". FAMSF. Retrieved November 30, 2023.
  10. ^ "A Look into FAMSF 2022 Staff Demographics". FAMSF. Retrieved November 30, 2023.

37°46′17.4″N 122°28′07.3″W / 37.771500°N 122.468694°W / 37.771500; -122.468694