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Home> Destinations> America> San Francisco> Experience> Art Venues

Legion of Honor Permanent Collections

Updated: 2014-07-31 / By Dan Rosenbaum (sanfrancisco.travel)
[Photo from sanfrancisco.travel]

The core of the Legion of Honor’s collection was amassed by Adolf B. and Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, whose particular collecting focus was 18th- and 19th-century French art. Prior to the building’s renovation in 1995, the collection was primarily dedicated to French painting, sculpture, and decorative art. Over the past century, the collection has grown and expanded to encompass over 4,000 years of ancient and European art. Today, the Legion of Honor’s collection contains over 124,000 works of art and is recognized for its European decorative arts, sculpture and painting; and Ancient art from throughout the Mediterranean and the Near East. It also houses the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts’ exquisite collection of works on paper, one of the largest collections of works on paper in the country.

Fronted by a handsome courtyard that encompasses a glass pyramid and a bronze cast of Auguste Rodin’s The Thinker, the Legion of Honor’s one-of-a-kind treasures also include a custom Skinner pipe organ, with its 4,500 pipes cleverly and seamlessly hidden behind a canvas apse painted to look like marble. Not only one of the world’s finest organs, but also one of a few indoor/outdoor organs ever made, the Legion of Honor’s Skinner Organ is a favorite among organ enthusiasts. View extraordinary art while listening to free concerts (museum admission required) with a repertoire ranging from Bach and Gershwin to musical thunderstorms and great film scores. Public concerts are presented each weekend on Saturday and Sunday at 4 pm.


Visitors to the Legion of Honor this summer can experience rarely seen works from the museum’s permanent collection in four exhibitions and installations. Entry to these exhibitions and installations is included in general admission to the museum.

Matisse from SFMOMA, on view November 9, 2013–September 7, 2014, celebrates the Bay Area’s longstanding enthusiasm for Henri Matisse, tracing four decades of the artist’s career—from his early, Cézanne-inspired still lifes to his richly patterned and brightly colored figural paintings made in the 1920s and 1930s. The exhibition features 23 paintings, drawings, and bronzes from the internationally acclaimed collection of works by Matisse at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), joined by two paintings and two drawings from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s own important Matisse holdings.

Matisse and the Artist Book, on view January 11–October 12, 2014, showcases seven rare books created by Henri Matisse, including Poésies (1932) and Pasiphaé (1944). Henri Matisse was 60 years old when he began to create original illustrations for livres d’artiste (artists’ books). By the time of his death, 25 years later, he had produced designs for 14 fully illustrated books, several of which are considered 20th-century masterpieces of the genre.

Masters of Fire: The Copper Age in the Holy Land, on view June 28, 2014–January 4, 2015, explores the Chalcolithic period (Copper-Stone Age, ca. 5500–3500 BC), a time of great social and technological development that saw the first experimentation with metallurgy. This is the first US exhibition devoted to the art and culture of the formative period including the full range of Chalcolithic finds from Israel and Jordan: from oddly-shaped zoomorphic ossuaries, to basalt stands with human faces, to hoards of copper ritual objects, to technically elaborate linen and wool textiles, to monumental wall paintings representing ritual, and carved ivory human figures.

The Poetry of Parmigianino’s “Schiava Turca”, on view July 26–October 5, 2014, provides a rare opportunity for viewing Parmigianino’s masterpiece La schiava turca (ca. 1532), on loan from the Galleria nazionale di Parma in Parma, Italy. Heralded as an originator of Mannerism, Parmigianino developed an expressive style with elongated forms that was also indebted to the work of Raphael and Michelangelo. The title, which translates to “Turkish slave,” derives from the subject’s elegant balzo, a fashionable headdress worn by elite Northern Italian women, which was later mistaken for a turban.

The Salon Doré from the Hôtel de La Trémoille

The Salon Doré from the Hôtel de La Trémoille is one of the finest examples of French Neoclassical interior architecture anywhere. Richly carved and gilded, it was designed during the reign of Louis XVI as the main salon de compagnie, a room for receiving guests, of the Hôtel de La Trémoille on the rue Saint-Dominique in Paris. Its architecture, with large gilded Corinthian pilasters framing four arched mirrors and complemented by four massive doors, points to the influences of classical architecture on the art and design of this period. Newly reopened in April 2014, conservators have completed extensive restoration of the room as a modern interpretation that resembles as closely as possible its original appearance in the 18th century. The Legion of Honor invites guests to soak in the original splendor of this important architectural masterpiece and the truly groundbreaking museum display that has set a new standard for American period rooms.

Dining & Shopping

The Legion of Honor Café offers American and European classic cuisine featuring menu items crafted with seasonal ingredients from local purveyors. Under the direction of Lucas Schoemaker, president and executive chef of McCalls Catering & Events, the Café provides exceptional dining with unique menus often themed around special exhibitions on view. The Legion of Honor Museum Store offers a vast array of art books and museum publications, artisan-made decorative objects and jewelry, unique home accessories, and exclusive gifts for all occasions.


Legion of Honor

Lincoln Park

34th Avenue and Clement Street

San Francisco, CA 94121



Hours: Tuesdays–Sundays, 9:30 am–5:15 pm, last ticket 4:30 pm. Closed Mondays, except select holidays. Check website for details. Museum Store is open during museum hours. Museum Café is open Tuesdays–Sundays, 9:30 am–4:30 pm.

General Admission

$10 Adults; $7 Seniors (65 and over); $6 Students with current ID and Youths 13–17. Members and children 12 and under are free. General admission is free the first Tuesday of every month.

Additional fees apply for special exhibitions.

Tickets can be purchased on site and online at legionofhonor.org.


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