This San Francisco Museum Is the Perfect Spot for a Family Adventure


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After a year of COVID-related closures, many families are eager to have places to go, activities to do and cool stuff to see. (No offense to the neighborhood park, but it’s time to add some new adventures to the mix!) Whether you live in the Bay Area or are planning a visit, an excursion to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is the perfect way to spend a day. This fantastic museum is welcoming families and friends back to their 170,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor galleries. You’ll love opening your kids’ eyes up to all forms of art— spurring their imagination and creativity. At SFMOMA, grownups and children alike will find their favorite ways to engage with art, culture, and each other!

Jennifer Gonzalez, exhibit: Twin Walls Mural Company, Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams, 2020 (detail); commissioned by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, courtesy the artists

It’s Easy to Plan Your Visit

One of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the U.S., there are over seven floors, packed with diverse collections of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts. Timed tickets are required, so book ahead online to secure a time. Arrive just 15 minutes before your scheduled slot and get ready to explore. There are state-of-the-art safety measures and protocols in place to ensure your family has a comfortable, safe visit. (View the guidelines here.)

Adam Jacobs, exhibit: Nam June Paik, Foot Switch Experiment, 1963/1995 (installation view, Nam June Paik, SFMOMA, 2021); courtesy the Estate of Nam June Paik © Estate of Nam June Paik

There Are Designated “Free” Days

While visitors 18 and younger are always free, the museum’s “Free Family Day” offers access for up to four adults at no charge when accompanied by a visitor that’s eighteen or younger. Your whole crew can discover the museum together with self-guided materials. Check their website for upcoming dates.

Adam Jacobs, exhibit: Nam June Paik, One Candle, 2004 (installation view, Nam June Paik, SFMOMA, 2021); courtesy the Estate of Nam June Paik © Estate of Nam June Paik

Kids (and Their Gear) Are Easy to Get around the Museum

Don’t stress about parking the stroller, finding a place to change a diaper or securing a spot to feed your baby. There are family-friendly restrooms with changing tables located throughout the spacious museum. Strollers and soft-sided baby carriers (worn in front) are permitted in the galleries. Per California state law, breastfeeding and bottle feeding are allowed in all spaces. So find a seat for a feeding session and take in your favorite exhibit! 

Katherine Du Tiel; courtesy SFMOMA, exhibit: Olafur Eliasson, One-way colour tunnel, 2007 (detail); gift of Helen and Charles Schwab through The Art Supporting Foundation; Olafur Eliasson

Exhibits are fun for all

Ready for some mesmerizing, interactive art? The museum’s first new exhibit of 2021 features 200+ sculptures, installations, and videos from visionary Korean American artist Nam June Paik. Known as the “father of video art,” this experimental artist combined art, music, performance, and technology in groundbreaking, immersive ways. Paik’s “Sistine Chapel” swaps biblical references for pop stars, as images blanket the gallery walls and ceiling. (Slightly different than the Vatican landmark!) Once your kids see how Paik transformed old-fashioned TVs into works of art over his five-decade career, they may not be as impressed with their tablets! Get a sneak peek of Nam June Paik here. 

Another exploratory and playful exhibit is Contemporary Optics: Olafur Eliasson, Teresita Fernández, and Anish Kapoor. Artists transport visitors to captivating, dynamic landscapes that spark curiosity about our natural world. Be sure to travel through Eliasson’s One-way colour tunnel, a 34-foot-long arched walkway that gives the effect of being transported inside a brilliantly colored kaleidoscope. And if your kiddo’s ever wondered what it’s like to see a real black hole, Anish Kapoor's Vortex is a good place to start. 

Another must-see are the stunning murals of Bay Area Walls. Five powerful wall commissions by Twin Walls Mural Company, Muzae Sesay, Liz Hernández, Erina Alejo and Adrian L. Burrell, connect art with the community experience. They’re located across three floors, so keep your eyes peeled for these bold, thought-provoking pieces. 

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