Art of the Americas

The Art of the Americas collection provides unique perspectives into cultures and civilizations that thrived in the Western hemisphere long before the Spanish conquest. Most objects in these collections date between 200 BC and the mid-16th century AD, with a strong focus in Mesoamerican and Andean art. Almost all of these ancient arts were used in religious or funerary contexts. General themes found in these works include human and divine rule, the importance of ritual life, relationships between this life and the afterworld, shamanism (religious healing), and adoration of or curiosity about the natural world. These objects have survived the centuries because many are made of strong, permanent materials, such as stone or fired earthenware. Several examples of objects made of less durable media, such as wood, feathers, or fiber, have also survived over the ages due to a fortuitous burial location or dry climate.

As a result of the historic Harald Wagner Bequest, the de Young is home to the largest and most important group of Teotihuacan murals outside of Mexico. This windfall bequest transformed the museum and catalyzed a groundbreaking collaboration for the conservation of the murals over a 10-year period and precipitated the unprecedented, voluntary return of more than two-thirds of the mural fragments to the nation of Mexico. Additional highlights from the Art of the Americas include Mayan and West Mexican artworks generously donated by the Lewis K. Land family, an extraordinary bequest of exemplary Inuit and Eskimo art from the Thomas G. Fowler Collection, and pueblo pottery from the Paul E. and Barbara H. Weiss Collection.

Special Collections

Eskimo and Inuit Art from the Collection of Thomas G. Fowler

Yua, Spirit of the Arctic: Eskimo and Inuit Art from the Collection of Thomas G. Fowler is a permanent installation in the Art of the Americas gallery that presents a selection of objects from the Arctic Circle. The collection was donated to the Museums by the late Thomas G. Fowler (1943–2006). Mr... View More

The Lewis K. and Elizabeth M. Land Collection

Lewis K. Land (1904–1987) was a remarkable collector and businessman. From his early career in India and throughout a lifetime of wide-ranging interests, collecting became, for Land, a means of solidifying his varied intellectual pursuits. Geology and mineralogy were his first collecting passions... View More

The Harald Wagner Collection of Teotihuacan Murals

The Harald Wagner collection of Teotihuacan murals is the largest and most important outside of Mexico. The murals are remarkable for their quality, condition and iconographic breadth. Secretly removed from their site in the 1960s, they were left to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco in a... View More

The Paul E. & Barbara H. Weiss Collection of Pueblo Pottery

The Paul E. and Barbara H. Weiss Collection of Pueblo Pottery represents a significant gift of Native American art to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Over the last ten years, Paul and Barbara Weiss have traveled throughout the southwestern United States, carefully selecting outstanding... View More

The Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection

The Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection is an extraordinary anthology of Native American art assembled over three decades by Thom Weisel, a pioneer in the development of the tech industry in Silicon Valley and a noted collector of and advocate for Native American art. The collection includes... View More

Here/Now

A Tour with Trevor

Pablo Picasso said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow...

Meet the de Young Family

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season when we reflect on...