The ArtPoint Mission

ArtPoint is both a membership category and volunteer organization of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The primary purpose of ArtPoint is to encourage young professionals to become active members and supporters of these museums. ArtPoint helps to support the museums by sponsoring a year round program of social and educational events. ArtPoint is dedicated to promoting awareness, interest, and a long-term commitment to the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park and the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park.

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) is the city's largest public arts institution. Founded in 1970, FAMSF is comprised of the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park and the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. FAMSF is the city's most successful public/private partnership-a designated city department whose funding is largely raised privately.

The Legion of Honor displays a collection of 4,000 years of ancient and European art in an exquisite Beaux-Arts building overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Built to commemorate Californian soldiers who died in World War I, the Legion of Honor's collections include Rodin's Thinker, which sits in the museum's Court of Honor, European decorative arts and paintings, and one of the largest collections of prints and drawings in the country.

The de Young is San Francisco's oldest museum. Its collections include American paintings, decorative arts and crafts, arts from Africa, Oceania and the Americas, and both western and non-western textiles. The de Young is particularly recognized for its many educational arts programs for children and adults.

Legion of Honor History

The Legion of Honor was the gift of Alma de Bretteville Spreckels to the city of San Francisco. In 1915 Mrs. Spreckels fell in love with the French Pavilion at San Francisco's Panama Pacific International Exposition. This pavilion was a replica of the Palais de la Légion d'Honneur in Paris, one of the distinguished eighteenth-century landmarks on the left bank of the Seine. Alma Spreckels persuaded her husband, Adolph B. Spreckels, the sugar magnate, to recapture the beauty of the pavilion as a new art museum for San Francisco.

At the close of the 1915 exposition, the French government granted them permission to construct a permanent replica. Constructed on a remote site known as Land's End-a beautiful setting for any public structure-the California Palace of the Legion of Honor was completed in 1924, and on Armistice Day of that year its doors opened to the public. In keeping with the wishes of the donors, to "honor the dead while serving the living," it was accepted by the city of San Francisco as a museum of fine arts dedicated to the memory of the 3,600 California men who had lost their lives on the battlefields of France during World War I.

In a statement delivered to the Board of Park Commissioners on 5 January, 1920, Adolph B. Spreckels declared it was the purpose of "my wife and myself to contribute to the beautification of our native city something not only beautiful in itself, but also something devoted to patriotic and useful ends: something which might be dedicated as a suitable memorial to our brave boys who gave their lives to their country in the Great War, and also lend itself, as a home of art and historical treasures, to promoting the education and culture of our citizens, and especially the rising and coming generations."

From April of 1992 to November of 1995 the California Palace of the Legion of Honor underwent extensive renovation aimed at not only restoring the building's original interior appearance, but also to expand and improve its facilities-both structurally and architecturally-to meet the demands of the 21st century. A seismic retrofit was foremost among the projects undertaken during this three-year period. In addition, the building's interior was restored to its original appearance, and state-of-the-art environmental control and security systems were installed.

Also quite significant was the addition of a two-level expansion beneath the original structure of the museum. New public spaces, including six new special exhibition galleries organized around the central Roeskrans Court, were constructed, along with a new Achenbach Graphic Arts Study Center, and an expanded paper conservation laboratory. A new larger café and museum store were also included in the expansion.

de Young History

In 1893, a year of financial depression in San Francisco, M. H. de Young, publisher of the San Francisco Chronicle, decided that the West was in need of its own world's fair. De Young lobbied until the Golden Gate Park Commission granted Concert Valley for the exposition, under the condition that the area be returned to the city in such a state that permanent improvements could be carried out on the land. Only five months after the ground breaking the California Midwinter International Exposition opened on January 2, 1894, in Golden Gate Park.

Over 1,300,000 visitors in five months came to see the buildings laid out on the leveled sand hills of the park. When the fair closed on July 4, despite the economic depression, it had made a profit of $126,991. The subject of starting a permanent museum in Golden Gate Park as a memorial to the exposition was a popular one in the press, so the Executive Committee of the fair, led by M. H. de Young, offered the Fine Arts building to the Park Commissioners, together with the surplus funds, for this purpose. Thus, the first structure for the Memorial Museum, in the Egyptian Revival style and adorned with images of Hathor the cow goddess, was dedicated.

The new Memorial Museum was a success from its opening on March 24, 1895. No admission was charged, and most of what was on display had been acquired from the exhibits at the exposition. Not satisfied with this, de Young immediately began his own program of acquisitions. Although his interests were eclectic, it is nevertheless true that important objects in the Museums' permanent collections were acquired in the early days of the Memorial Museum's existence.

Before long the museum outgrew its buildings. De Young responded by planning the building that today is familiar to de Young Museum visitors. Louis Christian Mulgardt, the coordinator for architecture for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition, designed the new Spanish Plateresque-style building that was completed in 1919. In 1921 de Young added a central section, together with the familiar tower, and the museum began to assume its present configuration. That year M. H. de Young's substantial efforts were honored when the museum's name was changed to the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum. Yet another addition, a west wing, was completed in 1925, the year de Young died.

The resemblance to the present building was only partial, however, as the museum was encrusted with elaborate cast concrete decorations. The original Egyptian building was declared unsafe and demolished in 1929, and only twenty years later the concrete ornamentation of the de Young was called a hazard and removed, the salt air from the Pacific having rusted the supporting steel. Today a scattering of palm trees offsets the plain stucco facade of the museum that faces the Music Concourse and the California Academy of Sciences.

Beginning in 2001, a new de Young building will be constructed on the site of the current museum, which will be completely demolished. The new building, according to the designers, "seeks to communicate diversity; it is an embodiment of the open-ended concept of art fostered by the museum. It expresses the distinctiveness of different cultures and, at the same time, it is a place of common ground, where diversity meets and intersects, where otherwise hidden kinships between divergent cultural forms become visible and tangible."