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Meet Max Hollein

Max HolleinPhoto by FAMSF

On June 1, Max Hollein became the new director of the Fine Arts Museums. Born in Vienna, Max comes to us most recently from Frankfurt, where he directed the Schirn Kunsthalle (since 2001), as well as the Städel Museum and the Liebieghaus Sculpture Collection (both since 2006). Max studied art history at the University of Vienna and business administration at the Vienna University of Economics and began his career at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. We asked members to send their own questions to ask our new director.

August 30, 2016

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Visit ARTWEAR at the de Young on May 1st and 2nd to meet a thriving community of local artisans who create one-of-a-kind jewelry and textiles, from handmade felt hats to earrings made from discarded books. We met three of these makers and asked them a few questions about their work, the museum, and what they're excited about in the world of craft and design.

April 17, 2015

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de Young at Heart

I admit it: I LOVE museums. I have a sense of wonder every time I walk into one, and (obviously) art museums are among my favorites. But sometimes my kids get a little bored or start to complain after an overdose of paintings and sculptures, so I was thrilled last month when the de Young was transformed into a magical wonderland where children and their families romped, danced, and experienced art in a whole new way. The de Youngsters: A Bigger Family Party, the inaugural celebration of the next generation of museum-goers and art patrons, brought children, parents, and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco together for a night of pure joy.

Jugglers performing on top of Andy Goldsworthy's Drawn Stone in Diller Court

February 25, 2014

Give Original: The Holiday Artisan Fair at the de Young

We all have those people in our lives who are difficult to shop for, whether they’re super stylish, seem to have everything, or are just plain picky. Luckily, the Holiday Artisan Fair at the de Young offers a unique variety of gifts for everyone on your list. Now in its seventh year, the season’s best shopping event features 17 of the Bay Area’s top artisans displaying their unique wares. An extensive variety of jewelry, textiles, home accessories, books, stationery and gifts for kids make the Holiday Artisan Fair the perfect opportunity to buy local and meet the artisans 

A variety of jewels, housewares, and unique gifts that will be featured in the Holiday Artisan Fair.

November 14, 2013

A Conservation Triumph: 1994–2013

For the first time ever, three prized tapestries from the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s permanent collection will be exhibited together in the Legion of Honor’s Gallery 1. The entire series, known as The Triumph of the Seven Virtues, consists of seven tapestries that depict allegorical representations of the theological virtues—Faith, Hope, and Charity—and the cardinal virtues—Temperance, Prudence, Justice, and Fortitude. While 10 museums in Europe, the United States, and Russia possess tapestries from this series, the Fine Arts Museums have The Triumph of Fortitude, The Triumph of Prudence, and the only extant example of The Triumph of Justice.

The monumental tapestry (and the only one of its kind) The Triumph of Justice

Triumph of Justice from The Triumph of the Seven Virtues Series, ca. 1535. Belgium, Brussels, Flemish. Wool, silk; tapestry weave. Gift of The William Randolph Hearst Foundation. 1957.125

August 29, 2013

Ruth Asawa (1926–2013)

SAN FRANCISCO (August 7, 2013) —The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are saddened by the loss of Ruth Aiko Asawa, who died on August 6, 2013, at the age of 87. Asawa was a groundbreaking modernist sculptor with whom the Museums enjoyed a long-standing relationship. An internationally exhibited artist, teacher, arts advocate, and Museum trustee, she leaves a remarkable legacy.

August 7, 2013


Step into Gallery 14 at the de Young and you will immediately encounter the riot of geometric color that is Frank Stella’s impressive 12-foot-square painting, Lettre sur les aveugles II (1974). This vibrant new acquisition represents the first of Stella’s paintings to enter the permanent collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

April 25, 2013

A Message from the President

Diane B. WilseyAs an extensive national search to find a new director draws to a close, we look forward to making a public announcement soon. As we prepare to embark on the next chapter of our long history it’s a good time to reflect on the amazing success we’ve experienced over the past several years.

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF)—which comprises the de Young and the Legion of Honor—is one of the most successful organizations of its kind in the world. We operate under the highest standards of governance. It is because of our high standards that we are a flourishing art institution that continues to exceed expectations both financially and artistically.

Our organization is among the largest and most respected art institutions in the country. Due to the efforts of our talented staff and dedicated Board of Trustees, we have been able to bring to San Francisco some extraordinary exhibitions such as:

  • Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs
  • Birth of Impressionism: Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay
  • Van Gogh, Gauguin, Cézanne and Beyond: Post-Impressionist Masterpieces from the Musée d’Orsay
  • Girl with the Pearl Earring: Dutch Paintings from the Mauritshuis
  • And, coming in 2013, David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition

March 18, 2013

Have Turban Will Travel

Objects are fussy. They’re susceptible to humidity, light levels, vibrations, and any number of other dangers, both large (floods) and small (mice). And whether it’s a tiny tea cup or a four-ton bronze statue, each object also has its own idiosyncrasies. Wood, for example, doesn’t get along with water, and paper can’t stand light. A museum is carefully designed, in part, to control all these factors and to give objects the secure and stable home they deserve. But what happens when an object needs to travel outside the museum’s walls?

The permanent collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco number over 100,000 objects, and only a percentage are on view. However, many of these treasured artworks can be viewed in exhibitions at other institutions throughout the world at any given time. When art objects are loaned in this way, they often travel for long periods of time, which is why it’s so important for our conservators to carefully prepare objects for their extended journeys. Such was the case when the Cleveland Museum of Art requested to borrow an ancient turban from the Nasca culture of Peru, featured in the exhibition Wari: Lords of the Ancient Andes that opened last week.

Turban, 200–600. Peru, South Coast, Nasca. Cotton cord wrapped with a band of camelid fiber fringe. The Caroline and H. McCoy Jones Collection Gift of Caroline McCoy-Jones. 2000.17.5

November 7, 2012

Mummy by the Bay: Irethorrou, an Egyptian Priest of the Early Persian Period

This Halloween, we take you inside one of the Museums’ most enigmatic inhabitants: the mummy Irethorrou. While mummies have long been the antagonists of numerous horror films, they also provide us with incredible insight into the funerary practices and religious beliefs of ancient Egyptians. We dare you to read on as curator Dr. Renée Dreyfus and Egyptologist Jonathan P. Elias unwrap the Museums’ mummy.

Mummy of Irethorrou in Coffin

Mummy of Irethorrou in Coffin, ca. 500 BC. Egypt, Akhmim, Middle Egypt. Human remains, linen, wood with polychrome. Gift of the First Federal Trust Company (from the Estate of Jeremiah Lynch). 42895

October 31, 2012

#MuseumOlympics Torch on Fire: A Story of Collaboration and Social Innovation

For the past two weeks, the world watched athletes from the world over compete and triumph in the 2012 Olympic Games. Meanwhile, museums the world over competed on Twitter in the tongue-in cheek competition #MuseumOlympics, which originated right here in San Francisco. Willa Köerner, digital engagement associate at SFMOMA and today's g uest blogger, takes us behind the scenes of #MuseumOlympics and reveals the origins of what will surely become a new quadrennial tradition.

Taber Olympics

Isaiah West Taber (American, 1830–1912). Olympic Club Day, 1894. Gelatin silver print. California Midwinter International Exposition, through M.H. deYoung. 2502

August 14, 2012

Conservation in 3D: Skype, Stereographs and Silicon

Recently one of the Museums’ most generous supporters, Dorothy Saxe, purchased a sculpture for the collection in memory of our late director John E. Buchanan. Created by contemporary glass artist Beth Lipman, Candlesticks, Books, Flowers and Fruit (2010) is a complex compilation of multiple elements balanced precariously on a table. My role as an objects conservator is to ensure that all the elements of this fragile sculpture are installed safely and in keeping with the artist’s original intent.

May 18, 2012

A Conversation with Max Fishko

Next week the city of San Francisco will be flooded with art dealers and collectors, all clamoring to see the newest and brightest at the second annual artMRKT contemporary and modern art fair. The event’s opening festivities kick off this Thursday, May 17 and feature a preview reception benefiting the de Young and the Legion of Honor museums.

We recently sat down with artMRKT co-founder Max Fishko, a third-generation gallerist from New York City, to get his take on the contemporary art scene at large and in San Francisco.

Max Fishko

Max Fishko, co-founder of artMRKT

May 12, 2012

Friday Nights at the de Young Are Back!

What do Jean Paul Gaultier, Lady Gaga, Don Draper and Frida Kahlo all have in common? They're all themes featured in Season Eight of Friday Nights at the de Young. After a four-month hiatus, the de Young opens Season Eight tonight, Friday, March 30, with a bigger than ever community party celebrating The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From Sidewalk to Catwalk .

March 30, 2012

Bringing the San Francisco Streets into the Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier!

The designs of Jean Paul Gaultier often straddle the seemingly divergent worlds of haute couture and street fashion. To illustrate the profound influence of the street’s wild style on Gaultier’s designs, the museum commissioned San Francisco based artist Rio Yañez to create a 65-foot long graffiti mural, which will serve as the backdrop for the Punk Cancan section of the exhibition.

March 9, 2012

Whatever Happened to Friday Nights?

Last week marked the close of Friday Nights at the de Young's season seven. We sat down with public programs director Renee Baldocchi to reflect on the past successes of Friday Nights at the de Young and to learn about what’s in store for the future, including upcoming programming for The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk.

December 2, 2011

When the Earth Shakes, Come to the de Young!

In 2009, senior registrar Stephen Lockwood came across a series of ledger books while examining the de Young’s offsite storage facility. These antique books contained detailed records of the weather and daily attendance at the de Young since its opening day in 1895. One entry was particularly interesting:

April 18, 2011