City Guide

San Francisco: the Insiders' Guide

de Young Museum, San Francisco, California

Sotheby’s Museum Network sits down with Jennifer Biederbeck, Director of Sotheby’s San Francisco office, to gather her insights on what not to miss during an art-filled weekend in the Bay Area.

Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley, California

Sotheby's Museum Network (SMN): Thanks for taking the time to speak with the Museum Network! There is such a vibrant cultural scene in San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. Which museums do you particularly recommend?

Jennifer Biederbeck (JB): San Francisco is home to several leading museums - SFMoMA, Legion of Honor, the de Young Museum, and the Asian Art Museum of course - but visitors who have not yet seen the new Berkeley Art Museum should certainly plan a visit. It opened about a year ago and houses a spectacular collection.

SMN: Beyond these larger collections, are there any 'under the radar' museums or foundations worth discovering?

JB: One lesser known museum that I always suggest is The Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts - it is off most people's radars and so great! Another might be the Contemporary Jewish Museum. Of course, there are also many wonderful private collections in San Francisco. Three that immediately come to mind: Pier 24 Photography (by appointment only), the David Ireland House (by appointment only), and the newly-opened McEvoy Foundation for the Arts. All offer a very focused collection and are a delight to visit.

San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, California

SMN: Of course, most visitors to San Francisco don't limit themselves to the city or downtown area. What are some great cultural destinations in the vicinity you'd recommend saving time for?

JB: Indeed! The Headlands Center for the Arts is a great non-profit cultural space set amid the preserved parklands of the Headlands, just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. As mentioned earlier, the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive is a wonderful addition to the city's museum sector. Finally, the San Jose Museum of Art is worth a day trip. Their upcoming exhibitions and programming is particularly impressive.

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