Acting as a major cultural destination since 1895, the De Young Museum re-opened in October 2005, newly housed in a facility ... More
De Young Museum
Acting as a major cultural destination since 1895, the De Young Museum re-opened in October 2005, newly housed in a facility designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron and Fong & Chan Architects in San Francisco. The Building is magnificent and from the observation tower you can get a great view of the park. It is open, airy and massive. It also has a perforated and embossed copper facade which goes very well with the greenery around the museum. The museum houses the world-renowned American Painting and Sculpture collection, dating from the 17th to the 20th Century. The Primitive Art is highly represented with extraordinary pieces from Native American Art (from the ancient Teotihuacan City), African Art (statues and potteries) and Oceanic Art (shields, dance dress and masks).
San Francisco clearly went all-out on this building, spending hundreds of millions of dollars to construct a palace of an art museum. Unfortunately, the contents of the museum don't live up to the exterior.
The galleries are sparsely hung, largely empty, and contain mostly mediocre painting and sculpture (lots of second-rate regional pieces, few masterpieces). For a city with the economic might of San Francisco, pretty disappointing.
The disdain for kids in this place is palatable. Seems like this fancy art museum in SF has brought out the worst types of people - wealthy snobs that hate kids - and the employees there for the most part like being around such wealthy snobs instead of kids learning about art. The facility is great though. Even the programs marketed toward kids at the de Young are run by kid hating snobs.
To begin with I went to the de Young with two friends and a one year old. I found it difficult to keep up with my friends and surrendered to the "we'll go our own way and somehow meet up later" routine. My daughter was a handful, but people were nothing but nice to she and I. It was tough to find a place to sit down and sneak a little milk into her belly in the middle of the museum but we managed to find an appropriate place (no food or drinks are allowed in the museum). I have an interest in and some education about art and art history. The exhibits are exquisite. They include alot of non-western art, so go expecting to be surpirsed and dazzled by these galleries. The architecture is beautiful, the landscaping is serene and fabulous, and I feel like this is a fully realized vision of art and our place and time. This is a cohesive leap into a new understanding of the arts as dinstinctly modern and non-western. Museum themes are culture, context and time.
When I read reviews saying that the collections of the de Young Museum are noteworthy, I ask myself: What collections are these? How did I miss them? The architecture of the new museum is very nice, but the collection is somewhat anemic when compared with other U.S. museums (those in NY, Chicago, Washington, LA, etc.).
I went here with family and friends over the 2005 Xmas holidays, and received mostly complaints for the effort. The problems were two-fold; one, a very different musuem environment, and two, visitor-organizational difficulties. From the very first this building challenges you as an odd coppery box. Galleries are mostly on the second floor and their organization is not tightly organized around a central circulation. This might not seem like a big deal but that's what my relatives chiefly griped about. As far as visitor organization, this place fails on some very basic levels. Signage for one. If you enter by the garage, it is not obvious where or even if you need tickets to enter the gallery. If you think you need to get in the long line line snaking out the 'front' door of the building, check again. When we were there, that line was just for the security check-in (flashlight in purse), and could be avoided by going around the side and entering through the cafe. You didn't need to bother at all if you came in through the garage. Food service was difficult too. We waited in a line at the cafe and noticed that there were small signs suggesting that there was a six-point process to obtaining food. I didn't read the sign closely because I was just interested in coffee. We never figured out what that was about because we were directed to a coffee and snack stand outside under an attached tent. Not great but ok. The way the garage works is a bit odd too. Some designer didn't study the circulation problems of not providing wide enough lanes that allow for traffic and pedestrian circulation as well as the difficulty of pedestrians milling about the parking ticket kiosks, spilling over into the vehicular traffic.
All that said, I had a good time here and thoroughly enjoyed the galleries. Next time however, I will eat ahead of time, get in the right lines for tickets and not take my friends and relatives.
The de Young has a lot to offer. I particularly enjoy the landscaped gardens: The Sculpture Garden and the Children's Garden. the whole of the structure on all sides has been landscaped with thoughtful plantings and hardscape.. integrating it even further into the setting of Golden Gate Park. I'm impressed with how these creative spaces have been created for the public use even before you officially enter the museum. Has is buzzing with activity every time i'm there.
some of the collections are especially noteworthy and further reinforce the feeling of how this museum celebrates nature. and where art and architecture takes it clues from nature.
The view from the tower is spectacular and offers a new and unique perspective on the city. it's location on the ocean and it's green spaces. fantastic view up the coast.
the tower, sculpture garden and children's garden and cafe (which looks out onto the sculpture garden) are all open free to the public. very cool indeed! another great place to congregate in san francisco.
The hype about the new de Young is true. The architecture is amazing and world-class, the art display is awesome and overwhelming (you may need more than 1 visit to appreciate all of it), the view from the tower is amazing ...
Short version: Employees are rude to people with families. Not kid friendly.
I went to the museum on opening weekend with my wife and daughter. I had my daughter in a carrier to keep her out of trouble. When we were inside I wsa politely informed by someone that carriers were not permitted and that I should check it. I told him I would after I finished reading a posting. A minute later someone else informs me of the same policy. I told him that I was just informed of the policy when he condescendingly told me each step involved in getting to the bag check room (as if I were a little kid). I then went directly to check the carrier so I wouldn't be told again. Once I checked the carrier, I put my daughter on my shoulders because the floor was really crowded. I was informed by someone else that that was not permitted. That person happen to be standing in front of some doors that people were going through. My wife told me that it was probably the entrance to the garage. Since there were not signs, I asked the person. Instead of just telling me it was, he asked me if I was parked in the garage. I told him no and he told me that I can't go through since I wasn't parked in the garage. I work in customer service so I know the right and wrong ways of giving answers. These employees need to take some seminars on customer interaction! If they don't want children in the museum, they should just have a sign out front saying no children allowed.
We can't wait to return to the de Young...this is a long awaited reopening. From the outside it is an architectural marvel and moves San Franscico up near the top in cultural circles! A must see when you visit our fantastic city.
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