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10 Blockbuster Exhibitions at Nine San Francisco Museums This Summer

June 18, 2016 Attraction No Comments Email Email

San Francisco is known for its cable car rides and waterfront views, but if you haven’t checked out the arts scene, you’re missing a huge part of the city’s character.

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Whether you’re a resident or just visiting, these summer selection of exhibitions have something for everyone.


Emperors’ Treasures at the Asian Art Museum
(June 17 – Sept. 18, 2016)

Get a glimpse of some of the rarest Chinese paintings and ceramics as they go on display at the Asian Art Museum. This is the first time these pieces are being exhibited in the United States. This exhibition focuses on the nine Chinese emperors who ruled from the 12th to 20th centuries, and features more than 150 pieces, including the celebrated “Meat-shaped stone”.


Wish Upon a Star: The Art of Pinocchio at the Walt Disney Family Museum
(Through Jan. 9, 2017)

If you’re a Disney fanatic or a fan of old-school animation, this Walt Disney Family Museum exhibition is a can’t-miss. See pictures of the production process and the artists at work as you get an up-close and behind-the-scenes look at how this animated classic was made. Discover a new appreciation for the planning and detail that goes into hand-drawn animation.


Ed Ruscha and the Great American West at the de Young Museum
(July 16 – Oct. 9, 2016)

The settlement of the Great American West was a turning point in America’s history, and this 99-piece exhibit at the de Young Museum, featuring works from artist Ed Ruscha, will give you a new appreciation for the role the West has played in our culture, both past and present. This is also a companion exhibition to Wild West: Plains of the Pacific shown at Legion of Honor from June 18 to September 11, 2016.


Grace Jones Project and Dandy Lion at the Museum of African Diaspora
(Through Sept. 18, 2016)

Stop by MoAD to see both of these exhibitions that explore the influences of actress and singer Grace Jones, and the everyday life of urban cis-gender black men. The Grace Jones Project features works from the likes of Xaviera Simmons and Jacolby Satterwhite, while Dandy Lion includes both films and photographs that challenge the “thug” narrative so often imposed on the black community.


Strandbeest: The Dream Machines of Theo Jansen at the Exploratorium
(Through Sept. 5, 2016)

“Strandbeest” is Dutch for “beach animal,” and if you look long enough, the sculptures in this exhibition may just seem like they’re coming to life. Artist Theo Jansen uses mostly PVC tubing to construct these large kinetic sculptures. This is the first time the Strandbeests have been seen in North America, and this Exploratorium exhibition gives you an inside look at what goes into creating these fantastic beasts, including concept sketches, video and live demonstrations.


Bill Graham and the Rock & Roll Evolution at the Contemporary Jewish Museum
(Through July 5, 2016)

Get a last look at how Bill Graham changed the rock music industry forever, as this Contemporary Jewish Museum exhibition comes to the end of its run. The exhibit follows his life, from his childhood as a German Jewish refugee to his career as a rock promoter, and how he was able to influence the industry and use music to help those in need.


The Ocean After Nature at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
(June 17 – Aug. 28, 2016)

Check out this exhibition at the YBCA and get a new perspective on the sea and its role in today’s international culture. Works by 20 artists from around the globe come together to examine the ocean’s place in our world, from the land-sea divide to ocean travel to the intersection of sea life and humanity and the delicate marine ecosystems. This multi-modal exhibition includes music, sculptures, photographs and various other media.


California and the West at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
(Through Sept. 5, 2016)

Experience the Wild West like you’ve never seen it before at the SFMOMA. This exhibit walks you through photographs from artists such as Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Edward Weston and Minor White, and shows how the American west, our perception of it and photography have all evolved over time. The exhibit begins with works from the 19th century, when the camera was just being invented, and ends in the digital age of the present day.


The Campaign for Art at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
(Through Sept. 18, 2016)

Be one of the first to see some of the new works on display at the recently reopened and expanded SFMOMA. On-display pieces include photographs from Diane Arbus, paintings from Jackson Pollock and works from installation artist and sculptor Joseph Beuys. The Media Arts department will be gaining video performances by Ant Farm, Nam June and Lynn Hershman Leeson, and you can also see what innovation and design looks like first hand in the Architecture and Design display.


The Future of the Past: Mummies and Medicine at the Legion of Honor
(Through Aug. 26, 2018)

See what happens when science and art come together to give you a detailed look at what life was like in Ancient Egypt at the Legion of Honor. High-resolution computed tomography (CT) scans allow scientists, historians and anthropologists to get 3D images of the coffins and mummies inside without damaging these delicate artifacts. This exhibition includes a display of amulets and tomb furnishings, as well as an interactive virtual dissection table.


The San Francisco Travel Association is the official destination marketing organization for the City and County of San Francisco. For information on reservations, activities and more, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel, read the Visitors Planning Guide or call 415-391-2000.  San Francisco Travel also operates Visitor Information Centers at Hallidie Plaza, 900 Market Street at the corner of Powell and Market streets and on the lower level of Macy’s Union Square.  For more information, visit www.sanfrancisco.travel.

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