14 Awesome San Francisco Museums That Are Back Open To The Public

Jamie Ferrell Jamie Ferrell

14 Awesome San Francisco Museums That Are Back Open To The Public

You can once again see these incredible exhibits in person.

We’re extremely fortunate to live amongst some of the world’s most interesting and dynamic museums. This year has been all the more difficult given their closure, but as San Francisco emerges from lockdown, the City has been able to welcome back some of our favorite spots. Whether you’re interested in fine art or biology, these impressive museums won’t disappoint.

All museums have Covid-compliant precautions in place, such as sanitizing stations, reduced capacity, timed ticketing, mandatory face coverings, and more. If you prefer to take a virtual tour for now, most of them have online options available as well.


If you want to enjoy some beautiful art…

1. de Young Museum

[Photo by @garysextonphotography]

The de Young Museum has been one of SF’s most iconic fine art museums since it was founded in 1895. Their collections include African art, arts of the Americas, oceanic art, photography, and textiles. Current exhibitions feature a beautiful dedication to Frida Kahlo and a multimedia exhibition of artificial intelligence.


2. Asian Art Museum

The Asian Art Museum is back open, and you’ve got to check out this underrated SF spot! This stunning museum is home to over 18,000 magnificent works of Asian art, ranging from ancient ceramics to contemporary video installations. The museum began over 50 years ago, and has since evolved several times to keep up with the changing artworks and mediums.


3. SF Museum of Modern Art

SF MOMA is one of the City’s most famous museums, and you’ll find both large- and small-scale exhibitions  to help you think critically about contemporary art in today’s society. If fine art isn’t your thing, this museum might change your mind! Be sure to take some awesome pictures while you’re at it. Current exhibitions include “Bay Area Walls,” in which local artists respond to 2020.


4. Cartoon Art Museum

This unique museum has about 7,000 original pieces including  comic strips, comic books, anime, political cartoons, graphic novels and underground comics. If you’re a comic book fan, you’ll love browsing their awesome collections.


5. Museum of Craft and Design (REOPENING APRIL 1)

This exciting museum endeavors to make creativity accessible to everyone through fun, interactive exhibits for all ages. They will welcome 2 new exhibitions at their reopening on April 1: Design by Time and Encoded Times: Gary Hutton x Tom Bonauro.


If you’re an animal lover…

6. San Francisco Zoo

Quit monkeying around and make sure you go check up on your favorite animals! The SF Zoo reopened last month, and you can now reserve a time to visit with limited capacity. Once again, you can enjoy the Outback Trail, Grizzly Gulch, Penguin Island, and much more. Learn about these fascinating animals through informative exhibits and up-close views!


7. California Academy of Sciences (REOPENING MARCH 17!)


Keep an eye on the California Academy of Sciences, because it’s opening back up on March 17th with plenty of Covid precautions. This exciting aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum and rainforest is one of our favorite spots in Golden Gate Park. Take a walk around the living roof or check in with Claude, the albino alligator.


8. Aquarium of the Bay

The Aquarium of the Bay recently declared that they are “o-fish-ally open,” and you’ve got to check up on your favorite critters post-lockdown! The aquarium is home to over 20,000 marine animals including sharks, octopus, jellyfish, otters, and more. Enjoy walk-through tunnels and other exciting exhibits as you learn all about these fascinating creatures.


If you just want to stop and smell the roses…

9. Conservatory of Flowers

This beautiful, lush green space is one of SF’s favorite escapes from city life. Not only is it a national, state, and local landmark, but it’s been curating a vast collection of rare and unusual plants since 1879. Enjoy this up-close view of some of the world’s most beautiful plants and flowers, and try their Night Bloom experience to see them in a new light.


10. San Francisco Botanical Garden

The SF Botanical Garden features over 8,000 other kinds of plants across 55 acres. The magnolia bloom from February and March has begun to subside, but be sure to check out the Ancient Plant Garden, the Garden of Fragrance, the Moon Viewing Garden, and many others for an awesome outdoor experience!

11. Japanese Tea Garden

The Japanese Tea Garden is one of Golden Gate Park’s most iconic destinations, and for good reason. The tea house, or ochaya, dates back to 1894, making it the oldest ochaya in the United States. Take a stroll through the pagodas, stepping stone paths, native Japanese plants, and more. Remember to visit in March and April for a glimpse of the cherry blossoms.


If you’re a history buff…

12. Alcatraz Island

Alcatraz Island will reopen cellblock tours of the prison starting March 15. It’s a fascinating place that’s been home to a military fort, a federal penitentiary, a Native American civil rights movement, and much more. Learn about exciting escape attempts and life on the island while enjoying spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay and Golden Gate Bridge.


13. Contemporary Jewish Museum (REOPENING APRIL 17!)

San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum endeavors to share Jewish history, culture and art in a contemporary context. Exhibitions will include:

  • Predicting the Past: Zohar Studios, The Lost Years: An immersive photography exhibition by Shimmel Zohar.
  • GOLEM: A Call to Action: A digital exhibition using Jewish allegory and folklore to call attention to confront societal and ecological disasters.


14. Walt Disney Family Museum (SPECIAL EXHIBITION OPENING March 19!)

The Walt Disney Family Museum welcomes a special exhibition entitled “The Walt Disney Studios and World War II,” which will open to members on March 18 and to the general public on March 19. The fascinating exhibition delves into Walt Disney’s contributions to the Allies’ WWII effort. The main museum is due to reopen sometime in April. 


[Featured Image: @luiscon3.mx via Instagram]

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