San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco

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The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is a modern art museum located in San Francisco, California. A nonprofit organization, SFMOMA holds an internationally recognized collection of modern and contemporary art and was the first museum on the West Coast devoted solely to 20th century art. The museum’s current collection includes over 26,000 works of painting, sculpture, photography, architecture, design, and media arts. The building complex was designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta.

SFMOMA's Research Library was established in 1935 and contains extensive resources pertaining to modern and contemporary art, including books, periodicals, artists’ files, and lecture recordings. The museum also houses a restaurant, Caffè Museo, and a coffee bar run by the Blue Bottle Coffee Company.


SFMOMA was founded in 1935 under director Grace L. McCann Morley as the San Francisco Museum of Art. For its first sixty years, the museum occupied the fourth floor of the War Memorial Veterans Building on Van Ness Avenue in the Civic Center. A gift of 36 artworks from Albert M. Bender, including The Flower Carrier (1935) by Diego Rivera, established the basis of the permanent collection. Bender donated more than 1,100 objects to SFMOMA during his lifetime and endowed the museum's first purchase fund.

The museum began its second year with an exhibition of works by Henri Matisse. In this same year the museum established its photography collection, becoming one of the first museums to recognize photography as a fine art. SFMOMA held its first architecture exhibition, entitled Telesis: Space for Living, in 1940.

In January 1995 the museum opened its current location at 151 Third Street, adjacent to Yerba Buena Gardens in the SOMA district. Mario Botta, a Swiss architect from Canton Ticino, designed the new facility.

SFMOMA made a number of important acquisitions under the direction of David A. Ross (1998–2001), including works by Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Rauschenberg, René Magritte, and Piet Mondrian, as well as Marcel Duchamp’s iconic Fountain (1917/1964). Under current director Neal Benezra, SFMOMA has seen an increase in both visitor numbers and membership while continuing to build its collection.<ref name="test3" />

Collections, exhibitions, and programs

The museum has in its collection important works by Andy Warhol, Jackson Pollock, Richard Diebenkorn, Clyfford Still, Henri Matisse, Paul Klee, Marcel Duchamp and Ansel Adams, among others. Annually, the museum hosts more than twenty exhibitions and over three hundred educational programs.

In 2009 the museum gained a custodial relationship for the important contemporary art collection of Doris and Donald Fisher of The Gap. The Fisher Collection includes some 1,100 works from artists such as Alexander Calder, Chuck Close, Willem de Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Anselm Kiefer, Ellsworth Kelly, Roy Lichtenstein, Brice Marden, Agnes Martin, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Cy Twombly, and Andy Warhol, among many others. The collection will be on loan to SFMOMA for a period of 100 years.

In February 2011, the acquisition of 195 new works was announced, including paintings from Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg and Francis Bacon. The works will be displayed along with the Fisher collection upon the museum's expansion, slated to be completed in 2016.

In 2008, the museum launched a re-designed website which enables users to browse the museum's permanent collection.

Selected Collection Highlights

More from the Collection

Building and expansion

In 2009 SFMOMA opened its 14400 sqft rooftop garden, designed by Jensen Architects in collaboration with Conger Moss Guillard Landscape Architecture. The space serves as an indoor/outdoor sculpture gallery and is connected to the museum's fifth-floor galleries by a glass-enclosed bridge.

SFMOMA plans to open a new wing in 2016. In July 2010 the museum selected Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta to design the expansion, which will triple the size of SFMOMA's galleries.

Staff and officers


The current director of SFMOMA is Neal Benezra, who was appointed in 2002. Previous directors include:

  • 1925-1958 Grace Morley
  • 1958-1965 George D. Culler
  • 1966-1972 Gerald Nordland
  • 1974-1986 Henry T. Hopkins
  • 1987-1997 John R. Lane
  • 1998-2001 David A. Ross


  • Gary Garrels – Painting and Sculpture
  • Janet C. Bishop – Painting and Sculpture
  • Rudolf Frieling – Media Arts
  • Sandra S. Phillips – Photography
  • Henry Urbach – Architecture and Design
  • Dominic Willsdon – Education and Public Programs


  • Charles R. Schwab – Chairman
  • Robert J. Fisher – President
  • Richard L. Greene – Vice Chair
  • Robin M. Wright – Vice Chair
  • Dennis J. Wong – Secretary/Treasurer

SFMOMA Artists Gallery at Fort Mason

The museum also operates the Artists Gallery at Fort Mason, a nonprofit gallery located at Fort Mason Center in San Francisco’s Marina district. The Artists Gallery was founded in 1978 as an outlet for emerging and established Northern California artists. The gallery holds eight exhibitions each year, including solo, group, and thematic shows. Works cover a range of styles and media, from traditional to experimental, and all works are available for rent or purchase.

See also

  • List of museums in San Francisco
  • America's Favorite Architecture 2007
  • 49-Mile Scenic Drive
  • Donald Fisher

External links