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museums in san francisco

Free Museums in San Francisco 🖼️ | Museums for All Program + San Francisco Museum Free Days

Last Updated on: 8th February 2024, 07:56 am

The beautiful city of San Francisco ranks as one of the greatest cities in the world, and for good reason. The city is the home of some world-famous sites, such as the Presidio, the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz, Chinatown, Ghirardelli Square, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Mission District. Take a tour of San Francisco’s famously steep streets in one of their equally famous cable cars. 

You’ll also find major sports franchises in the city, like Major League Baseball’s San Francisco Giants, the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers, and the NBA’s Golden State Warriors. San Francisco offers some of the best colleges and universities in the country as well. 

It comes as no surprise that San Francisco has a vibrant arts and culture scene with some of the best museums and exhibitions in the country, including art galleries, local history museums, and more. Although many of the best museums in San Francisco aren’t free, most of them have free days that you can take advantage of. There isn’t one Free museum weekend in SF, but many museums offer free days. You might be wondering what museums are free in San Francisco, and we have good news. We’ve done the work for you! This guide features some of the best free museums in San Francisco and free museum days in San Francisco. 

The Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco

The Institute of Contemporary Art San Francisco is a free contemporary art museum dedicated to pushing the boundaries of contemporary art. If you want a fun thing to do with kids, add this to your San Francisco free museum weekend plans! See where the future of contemporary art is going with a continually evolving and rotating collection of art, sculpture, video, and more from up-and-coming new artists willing to push the envelope. The museum features many works by creative and innovative artists that you won’t typically see in traditional museums or galleries. This is a San Francisco free museum that is always free no matter when you go!    

Museum Hours & Location

San Francisco Cable Car Museum

When it comes to free San Francisco museums, this is one of the most interesting. San Francisco is famous for its cable cars, and you can find out their interesting history at the Cable Car Museum. This free museum features three antique cable cars from the 1870s, including the Clay Street Hill Railroad grip car 8, which is the only surviving car from the first cable car company in San Francisco. The museum also has grips, track, cable, brake mechanisms, tools, and detailed models of cable cars. They also have an extensive collection of historic photographs, cable car memorabilia, books, and more.  

Museum Hours & Location

  • Address: 1201 Mason Street, San Francisco, CA 94108
  • Phone number: (415) 474-1887 
  • Hours: Tuesday to Thursday, 10 am to 4 pm, Friday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Closed Monday, New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Truhlsen-Marmor Museum of the Eye

This SF museum’s free days include every single day that they are open! As the world’s only free museum dedicated to the eye and the science of sight, the American Academy of Ophthalmology Truhlsen-Marmor Museum of the Eye offers a truly unique experience. Displays allow you to see inside the eye and let you interactively experience how new technology is impacting how we care for the eye. Many of the exhibits and artifacts are examples of cutting-edge technology. Learn interesting and surprising facts about how your vision works and how the latest advances in the field of ophthalmology are working to protect it. With over 38,000 items, including books, instruments, photographs, eyeglasses, and more, you can spend hours exploring the history of ophthalmology as well.   

Museum Hours & Location

Asian Art Museum

This is one of the best free museums in San Francisco. The Asian Art Museum is one of the world’s top museums of Asian art. The museum has a vast collection of over 18,000 items that span 6,000 years of history from every region of Asia, including more than 2,000 impressive works of art from China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, India, and more. The collection features everything from ancient jades and ceramics to creative and contemporary new works of art. Galleries include China, 960 CE–Present, The Himalayas and the Tibetan Buddhist World, and The Persian World and West Asia.  The museum also hosts special exhibitions, cultural celebrations, and public programs that provide inspiring art experiences for all ages. The SF Asian Art Museum free day is the first Sunday of every month. Make sure to plan your visit then for a fun SF free museum weekend.

Museum Hours & Location

Legion of Honor

The Legion of Honor is home to an impressive collection of ancient and European paintings, sculptures, decorative arts, and graphic arts that span 4,000 years. This is one of the most unique history museums in San Francisco. The museum is located in the architecturally stunning Beaux-Arts building that overlooks the Golden Gate Bridge. Along with the de Young Museum, the Legion of Honor is part of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Together, they make up the largest public arts institution in the city and one of the largest art museums in the United States. General admission to the museum is $20 for adults, but the San Francisco museum free days are on the first Tuesday of each month! 

Museum Hours & Location

de Young Museum

The other half of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, the de Young Museum features priceless artifacts and works of art from the 17th century up through the 21st century. The global collection includes works from the Americas, textile arts, and art of Africa and Oceania, as well as international contemporary art. Don’t forget to head up to the impressive glass-walled Hamon Observation Tower that offers a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of downtown San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco Bay, and the Marin headlands. The imaginative Barbro Osher Sculpture Garden features modern works and James Turrel’s sculpture Skyspace. Visit the museum on the first Tuesday of the month when admission is free for all visitors. If you are a resident of any of the nine Bay Area counties, they offer Bay Area free museum days. The de Young museum free days are on Saturdays, and that includes art making opportunities for all ages, gallery guides, and tours with discussion and sketching in the permanent galleries. 

Museum Hours & Location

Museum of Craft and Design

The Museum of Craft and Design offers visitors a unique and informative experience in the field of craft and design as it’s the only museum in the San Francisco area devoted to these endeavors. The museum showcases an opportunity to see distinctive and innovative crafts and design-focused exhibitions on display by talented designers, makers, and artists. As a non-collecting institution, the museum collaborates closely with artists, designers, museums, universities, design venues, and experts to bring the exciting world of craft and design to visitors of all ages. The Museum of Craft and Design offers Pay What You Can Wednesday every Wednesday. If you’re looking for free museum days in San Francisco, you won’t find it at this museum. However, Pay What You Can Wednesday gives you the opportunity to see all the latest exhibitions and galleries for whatever amount you wish to give.  

Museum Hours & Location

Walt Disney Family Museum

 

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If you’re a fan of Disney, you won’t want to miss the Walt Disney Family Museum, conceived and brought to life by Walt’s daughter, Diane. The huge, 40,000-square-foot main museum houses everything from the newest technology of Disney magic to the historic early drawings, animation, movies, music, and more that Walt Disney is famous for all over the world. The museum also features an impressively accurate 12-foot diameter model of Disneyland. Check out the one-of-a-kind array of 248 awards that Disney won during his career, such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom and many Academy Awards‍—‌including the honorary award for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, which consists of one full-sized Oscar alongside seven miniature ones to represent each dwarf. The Fantasia-inspired state-of-the-art digital theater shows Disney movies every day. The museum has 10 permanent galleries spanning Disney’s remarkable achievements, including Early Beginnings, The Transition into Features, Walt and the Natural World, and Disneyland and Beyond. Trains from Disney’s Carolwood Pacific Railroad, which he built in his backyard, are also on display. See the incredible animation, innovation, and inspiration of Walt Disney showcased throughout the museum with state-of-the-art exhibits and interactive galleries. Though it does cost most days, there is a free museum day. The museum is free one day of the year, on Walt Disney’s birthday, which is December 5th.   

Museum Hours & Location

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) stands as a vibrant testament to artistic innovation and creativity in the heart of the city. Its sleek architecture, designed by Snøhetta, mirrors the modernity within its walls. As one enters, they’re greeted by a kaleidoscope of artistic expressions, from iconic works by Frida Kahlo and Jackson Pollock to contemporary installations challenging societal norms. The museum’s diverse collection spans mediums and epochs, fostering a dialogue between past and present. With its thought-provoking exhibitions, educational programs, and immersive experiences, SFMOMA beckons visitors into a world where art transcends boundaries, inspiring introspection and awe. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art free days are on the first Thursday of every month. Waiting until the SFMOMA free day can save you a lot of money, as traditional general admission is $30 per person.

Museum Hours & Location

Map of Free Museums in San Francisco

San Fransisco has some of the best museums in the country, many of which feature exhibits you won’t find elsewhere. Although most of them do charge for admission, you can find excellent free museums in the city. Most museums in San Francisco also offer free admission days throughout the year. In addition, check out San Francisco Museums For All, which is a program offering free or discounted admission to most museums in the area. If you’re looking for fun things to do in San Francisco because you’re moving there, you’ll need the best San Francisco movers to help you get there! Call AMS Relocation at 650-284-2931 for a free quote today!

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