The last time I visited the San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art was on a field trip in college with several other members of the CSUS design department. I remember being fascinated with the bold colors, harsh lines, textures, and art that others might not consider art. I have tried to visit a few times, but the SFMOMA was closed for several years while it underwent an expansion and remodel.
Thankfully it reopened a couple years ago and now that my kids are 13 and almost 16, it was the perfect time to visit the San Francisco staple once again and introduce my kids to one of the largest museums of modern and contemporary art in the United States.
SFMOMA Parking and Tickets
We ate breakfast at our hotel and arrived about 30 minutes before the museum opened, which gave us plenty of time to park in the museum’s parking garage. By 10:00 am when the doors opened, there was a HUGE group of people waiting to get in to wait in line to buy their tickets. (Rookies.)
We didn’t have to do that. Brian saw the crowd of people, grabbed in his phone, and bought our tickets online while we stood on the sidewalk. This meant when the doors opened, we were able to walk right into the exhibits.
Wondering how long a visit to the SFMOMA takes?
Your visit to the SFMOMA can last as long as you want it to — you can wander for a couple hours or spend the entire day exploring the entire museum, dining at one of the onsite restaurants, and shopping in the museum store. We spent about four hours wandering through the exhibits and then walked across the street through Yerba Buena Gardens to the Metreon for food and a movie. (The Lego Movie 2 was playing, we hadn’t seen it yet, and we couldn’t resist!)
The SFMOMA features an internationally recognized collection of modern and contemporary art that includes more than 33,000 works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts. It was the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th-century art.
Here’s the deal: Brian and Carter really don’t like art museums but they put up with them and put on their happy/participatory faces because I love them. Luckily, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art isn’t like other art museums with hundreds (or thousands) of paintings. To quote my 13 year-old son, “This was a lot less boring than I thought it would be.”
As you walk through the SFMOMA, you will
- Meander by photographs — some beautiful, some weird, some thought-provoking.
- Roam through galleries of stark, bold, colorful, abstract modern art — some minimalist in feel and some overflowing with texture.
- Stroll through rooms of sculptures that invite you to stay a while and contemplate their meaning.
- Drift outside to the rooftop sculpture garden and patio and the 30 foot tall living wall with 19,000 plants designed by Habitat Horticulture.
- Stop to marvel at works of art on the funnier side, like a giant stacked sandwich, a seven foot tall comb, a huge penny, enormous pink erasers, a wooden Popeye, and a massive sleeping head.
At the end of our visit, we were ready to sit down, eat, and relax… The museum covers seven stories of gallery and exhibit space and walking up and down the stairs helped us hit 10,000 steps very early in the day! (There are elevators if you don’t want to or can’t climb the stairs.)
Overall, our family had a great time visiting the museum and getting our fill of modern art of all types. We especially enjoyed the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection of contemporary art, the mixed media arts, the exhibit about the design of The Sea Ranch community, and walking across the Oculus Bridge (and seeing the lobby far below).
SFMOMA Museum Store
Of course, before we left we couldn’t resist checking out all of the beautiful, colorful, and fun things on display in the SFMOMA Museum Store.
I could have spent hours in the store. They have an amazing collection of books, home goods, jewelry, toys, and more — it’s the perfect one-stop shop when trying to find gifts for those with a designer’s eye and appreciate beautifully-crafted items. The best part our purchase and every purchase supports SFMOMA’s exhibitions and education programs.
Know Before You Go
- The San Francisco Museum Of Modern Art is located at 151 3rd Street, San Francisco, California 94103 in the bustling SoMA district, just steps from Yerba Buena Gardens and the Moscone Center in San Francisco County.
- Download the Spring 2019 Visitor Guide.
- The SFMOMA is open Friday through Tuesday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Thursday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm. It is closed Wednesdays, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day. From Memorial Day weekend to the first weekend in September, it is open on Saturdays until 9:00 pm.
- Everyone needs a ticket for entry, even members and those 18 and under — who always get in free. Admission is $25/adult, $22/Senior 65+, and $19/Adults age 19-24 with ID.
- SFMOMA has a parking garage on Minna Street just a few steps from the museum’s main entrance on Third Street and parking fees directly support the museum.
- Families are encouraged to visit! Check out their tips for visiting with kids.
- There are several dining options at SFMOMA! A coffee kiosk available without paid admission is on the first floor. Sightglass, near the Photography Interpretive Gallery, serves up handcrafted coffee drinks and an assortment of pastries. Family-friendly Cafe 5 serves California-fusion fare in a window-lined cafe and sculpture garden. Finally, Michelin-starred restaurant In Situ delivers a fine-dining experience with a menu of dishes contributed by over 90 chefs from around the world.