Founded in 1895, the de Young’s original collections were born out of exhibitions featured in the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition organized by M.H. de Young. Today, the de Young museum is home to one of the most diverse and significant art collections in the western United States. Currently the de Young’s collection exceeds 27,000 works of art and is renowned for its holdings in American art of all periods, including painting, sculpture, decorative arts, and works on paper; the art of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; and costumes and textiles representing a wide variety of Eastern and Western traditions.

Collections News & Noteworthy

  • "Three Gems" Alterations
    April 12, 2016
    In 2014, artist James Turrell (b. 1943) contacted the Museums to review Three Gems, the “skyspace” sited in a grass-covered hill in the Osher Sculpture Garden. The work was approaching its tenth anniversary at the de Young, having been installed during the opening of the museum’s new building in 2005.  Turrell’s work often challenges assumptions about space and...
  • Hiram Powers Masterpiece Recently Acquired at the de Young
    March 23, 2016
    The Museums have acquired a two-thirds-scale marble version (ca. 1873) of the American sculptor Hiram Powers’s iconic masterpiece, Greek Slave, the most famous sculpture of the 19th century. Powers’s subject is a shackled Greek woman taken captive by Turkish Ottoman forces during the Greek War of Independence (1821–1832) and publicly displayed for sale in a slave...
  • Doré vase
    March 1, 2015
    In front of the de Young sits Poème de la vigne (Poem of the Vine) (1877–1878, cast in 1882), a monumental bronze vase by Gustave Doré (French, 1832–1883) that has been a feature of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s two institutions since 1895. Doré was one of the most prodigious artists of the 19th century, and few works illustrate the depth of his creative...
  • Celebrate Black History Month and see Aaron Douglas's "Aspiration"
    February 1, 2015
    Aspiration (1936), by the Harlem Renaissance artist Aaron Douglas (1899–1979), is on view in Gallery 10 at the de Young. The painting is one of two extant paintings from a four-part mural cycle that Douglas created for the Hall of Negro Life building at the 1936 Texas Centennial Exposition in Dallas. The work touches on many of the themes that characterized the...
  • David Hockney, Seven Yorkshire Landscape Videos, 2011. Eighteen digital videos synchronized and presented on eighteen 55-inch NEC screens to compromise a single artwork. Courtesy of the artist
    January 1, 2015
    This December, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco was awarded the 2014 YOUniversal Global Fine Art Award, one of a series of prizes recognizing the best fine art exhibitions and installations. The de Young’s presentation of David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition was selected for the YOUniversalaward by public vote from a nominee list culled from more than 1,000...
  • Frank Stella, Lettre sur les aveugles II, 1974. Synthetic polymer paint on canvas. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Foundation purchase, Phyllis C. Wattis Fund for Major Accessions
    October 15, 2014
    At age 23, Frank Stella (b. 1936) burst onto the New York art scene as an already mature artist with the inclusion of his now-legendary “black paintings” in the Sixteen Americans exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art. Seeming to banish illusionistic space and pictorial allusions, as well as the possibility of narrative content, the black artworks served as...
  • Ed Ruscha, A Particular Kind of Heaven, 1983. Oil on canvas. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, museum purchase, Mrs. Paul L. Wattis Fund, 2001.85
    September 1, 2014
    Ed Ruscha’s A Particular Kind of Heaven joins works by El Anatsui and Cornelia Parker currently on view in Gallery 16 at the de Young. An American artist associated with the Pop art and Conceptual art movements, Ruscha (b. 1937) is known for his paintings, drawings, prints, and photographs that record the shifting emblems of American life over the second half of the...
  • Teotihuacan mural
    August 1, 2014
    The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco hold the largest and most important collection of Teotihuacan murals outside of Mexico. They came to the de Young as part of the bequest of the Harald Wagner estate. Wagner, a San Francisco–based architect, was a passionate art collector who had spent several years living in Mexico. In the mid-1960s he purchased a number of mural...
American Painting
textile arts
Works on Paper