Inside the New SFMOMA: An All-Ages Museum Revealed

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San Francisco is back in the game, big time. The newly renovated San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) opens to the public for free on Saturday, May 14, with a day of festivities that include a neighborhood celebration. San Francisco can now boast that it is home to the largest modern art museum in the US. The building is so beautiful, calm and tasteful, that you will want to move in, and never leave. And we have a full preview right here, including inspired new programs for kids.


Photo: Erin Feher

The New Addition

SFMOMA worked closely with Snøhetta to design the new museum as an outward-looking and engaging gathering space. The new building enables SFMOMA to be more welcoming and better connected to the city than ever before, with free public access to nearly 45,000 square feet of ground-floor galleries (including Richard Serra’s Sequence shown below).


7 Floors of Art

The newly expanded SFMOMA offers nearly triple the gallery space, with exhibitions showcasing 260 works from the distinguished Doris and Donald Fisher Collection of postwar and contemporary art, more than 600 artworks promised to the museum through its Campaign for Art, and the debut of the new Pritzker Center for Photography.

sfmomaPhoto: Erin Feher

 IMG_2571Photo: Blanca Garay

Always Free for Kids

SFMOMA’s Department of Education and Public Practice comprises three programs: School Initiatives, Public Dialogue, and Performance and Film.

School Initiatives supports students and teachers in the Bay Area’s K–12 schools through school group visits, curriculum building, teacher professional development and high-school collaborations. Programs are integrated with classroom practice and prioritize public schools through close collaboration with San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD).

Now offering free admission to all visitors 18 and under, as well as to classroom teachers on scheduled field trips, the museum invites schools to use the galleries as an extension of the classroom. A new, 4,800-square-foot education center includes a resource library and two classrooms.

IMG_2338Image: Living Wall by Habitat Horticulture

Outdoor Spaces

Every floor has access to the outside world by connecting terraces. Some of them also display art and places to chill and catch some air. It is recommended to go outside at every floor before entering a new gallery in order to see the art with a refreshed set of eyes.

SFMOMA living wall

The SFMOMA is also home to the largest living wall in the US. It’s composed by over 19,000 plants, mostly native to California, that mimic redwood forest undergrowth. It waters itself from the museum’s recycled water.

 sfmoma cafe

Photo: Sightglass Cafe  by Patricia Chang

Where to Eat 

Three star Michelin Chef Corey Lee is opening his restaurant in the museum’s first floor in June. Chef Lee is curating a rotating menu with recipes from his chef friends from all around the world.

Located in the fith floor, Cafe5 offers a lighter fate with a California-fusion slant. Offerings include flatbreads, fresh organic salads and artisanal open-faced sanwiches. There is also a lovely outdoor pavillion and sculpture garden to take your food under the sun.

The third floor-coffee bar offers visitors a selection of artisanal coffee beverages and pastires as well as a calm space to chill in between art.

Take Your Art to Go
The newly renovated Museum store on the first floor features a wide selection of art books, home accessories, furnishings, artist-made jewerly, toys, prints and more. The new Satellite Store on the second floor showcases exclusive SFMOMA-branded items and art-related merchandise.

IMG_2398Image: Viktor the drawing robot by Jürg Lehni. Photo by Sonia Gandiaga

Cool Facts About the New SFMOMA by the Numbers

0 Dollar entrance fee for anyone under 18

1 Robotic chalk-drawing robot machine that your kids will love.

2 Works of art that remained in place during the museum’s expansion: Matthew Barneys’ Drawing Restraint 14 and Richard Serra’s Gutter Corner Splash.

IMG_2570Image: Red Bathroom at the SFMOMA. Photo by Blanca Garay

7 unique paint colors, a different one decorating each floor’s public restroom.

SFMOMAPhoto: Erin Feher 

27 feet of wingspan of the white Alexander Calder mobile that hangs in the atrium.

213 tons of Corten Steel comprising Richard Serra’s sculpture Sequence.

700 custom fiber-reinforced polymer panels crafted for the exterior of the new SFMOMA

1900 works on display at opening in the new SFMOMA

55,000 K-12 school groups visitors expected at the SFMOMA in its first year.

TIrO8wZvQXrmImage: The new SFMOMA. Photo by Henrik Kam, Courtesy of SFMOMA

Getting There

We highly recommend taking public transit, as SFMOMA is in the heart of downtown. It’s just a few blocks from Montgomery BART and Muni Metro; many streetcars and buses stop at Market and 3rd.

There are also numerous parking garages nearby and semi-protected (within view of a security guard) bicycle parking on-site. Visitors can enter on Third Street or the new entrance on Howard Street.

151 Third St.
San Francisco, Ca
Hours: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. every day (extended hours till 9 p.m. on Thursdays); free public spaces open at 9 a.m. daily
Cost: $25/Adults; $22/Seniors; $19/ages 19-24; FREE for everyone under 18

Please tell us what did you and your kids love most from the new SFMOMA in the comments below! 

–Sonia Gandiaga

All photos by the author unless otherwise noted. 

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