Did you know that SFMOMA is currently offering free general admission to its Floor 2 galleries through May 29, 2023? For just a little bit longer, visitors (yes, including non-SF residents) can see four spectacular exhibitions free of charge which include both temporary and ongoing installations. Although admission to the galleries is free, you still need a ticket to access them–be sure to reserve a spot in advance to avoid waiting in line. Scroll to the bottom for more ways to visit SFMOMA for free.
Here’s a rundown of the Floor 2 exhibitions you’ll want to see for free before May 29, 2023:
The SECA Art Award has honored over seventy Bay Area artists since 1967 with a chance to display their work in a coveted gallery space in SFMOMA. This year’s winners have each filled a Floor 2 gallery with a largescale site-specific installation. Here are the five artists being honored this year:
- Binta Ayofemi – An immersive project in the Floor 2 Learning Lounge works to highlight Black and Indigenous presence in urban spaces.
- Maria A. Guzmán Capron – A series of hand-sewn patchwork textiles creates a three-dimensional dreamscape with larger-than-life figures in a state of transformation.
- Cathy Lu – A collection of intricate cascading clay garlands uses Chinese cultural references to investigate Asian American identity.
- Marcel Pardo Ariza – An ode to Bay Area trans leaders via photographic portraits in the style of Catholic altarpieces.
- Gregory Rick – A display of large colorful paintings examining racial conflicts with references to real-life events and endemic cultural issues.
Bay Area Walls – Michael Jang: The Whole Story
SFMOMA’s Bay Area Walls is a series of mural commissions by local artists on display throughout the museum. This Floor 2 mural, The Whole Story by Michael Jang, is the only one that’s free to see.
In February 2021 following a rise in anti-Asian hate, Jang wheat-pasted several large black and white photographs on a boarded-up storefront on Clement Street as a gesture of solidarity with SF’s Chinatown community. During the lockdown, unsanctioned installations like this became Jang’s primary form. This installation in SFMOMA is a reiteration of his original Clement Street project, now with the addition of new images and designs. In fact, he continues to add new collage layers to the piece over time as an ode to the temporality of graffiti culture.
If you want to see more murals from Bay Area Walls, you can find Sadie Barnette’s SPACE/TIME and Twin Walls Mural Company’s Our Ancestors’ Wildest Dreams on Floor 5. However, keep in mind that these other murals are not free to see.
SFMOMA’s Koret Education Center is currently home to Acción Latina’s community residency exhibition. The ’80s Matter in the Mission is a vibrant trip through San Francisco’s Mission District in the 1980s, paying tribute to the AIDS epidemic and immigration of refugees from Central America.
A centerpiece of the exhibition is Elizabeth Blancas’ dynamic mural piece celebrating Juan Pablo Gutiérrez Sánchez, who passed away in December 2021. Gutiérrez was a queer Latino artist and advocate who worked to improve AIDS education and promote celebration of Día de los Muertos in SF, among many other things.
This ongoing exhibition showcases pieces from SFMOMA’s collection that have impactful connections to the history of modern art dating back to the early 20th century. It’s organized into a series of chapters focused on revolutionary ideas, geographical centers, individual artists, and relationships between artists. As a collection, the featured pieces work together to navigate the modern art world’s complexities and contradictions. Some works on view include paintings by Frida Kahlo, Henri Matisse, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Mark Rothko.
More ways to visit SFMOMA for free
There are a few other ways to get free admission to SFMOMA if you want to see more beyond the Floor 2 galleries. Museum admission is free for Bay Area residents on the first Thursday of every month from 1-8pm, for families attending with a child under 18 on the second Sunday of every month, for EBT and Medi-Cal cardholders via Museums for All, and for CA library cardholders via Discover and Go.
In addition to the Floor 2 galleries closing soon, you can still enjoy the Floor 1 galleries for free without an imminent expiration date. Diego Rivera‘s 74-foot-long Pan American Unity mural is free for the public to see on Floor 1 in the Roberts Family Gallery until March 2024; and Wu Tsang‘s Of Whales oceanscape does not have a closing date on the calendar. Together with Floors 1, 2, and the Howard Street Mural Alley, visitors can explore 62,000 square feet of free gallery spaces.