The Legion of Honor
San Francisco

The California Legion of Honor Art Museum

COVID note: the Legion of Honor is open.

In the northwest corner of San Francisco is one of the most beautiful museums in the city: The California Palace of the Legion of Honor, a museum of fine arts. The setting is gorgeous, as well... woodsy views of the Golden Gate and San Francisco Bay.

legion of honor san francisco, building

This stately building was a gift to the city from the Spreckels family in 1924, to honor the Californians who died in World War 1. It was built as a replica of the Legion d'Honneur in Paris.

legion of honor san francisco, rotunda
Spacious galleries open off the domed rotunda.

A larger-than-life cast of Rodin's "The Thinker" greets visitors at the entrance. Inside the museum are three galleries with over 100 of Rodin's sculptures. (That glass pyramid looks like it was borrowed from the Louvre.)

legion of honor san francisco, the thinker, rodin

Special Exhibitions at the Legion of Honor

The Legion of Honor in San Francisco puts on lots of special shows, some with works visiting from other museums, and some put together from their own collections. They often have lectures and musical performances (free with entry) associated with their special exhibitions as well.

Check their website for the current exhibitions.

The Legion of Honor Collections

The Legion of Honor San Francisco museum houses a vast collection of European painting, sculpture and ceramics from the 16th century to the early 20th century, as well as artifacts from ancient Egypt, Assyria, Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome.

legion of honor san francisco, gallery
Serene Galleries

Works by many of the Big Names of European art are here in plenty: Renoir, Monet, Picasso, van Dyck, Rembrandt, Hals, Rubens, van Gogh, Cezanne, Gainsborough, El Greco and more.

legion of honor san francisco, works by monet
Works by Monet

Decorative art also: Faberge, Tiffany, Lalique, and artists serving the European royalty of the 17th and 18th centuries. And downstairs is a collection of porcelain dishes and figurines from the well-known ceramic factories of Europe: Meissen, Sevres, Worcester, and others.

The Legion of Honor also houses a huge collection of graphic art (90,000 items, the largest collection in the Western US) and a large photography collection which includes many early photographs of San Francisco and California.

Different selections of the museum's collections are displayed at different times, so the art on exhibit varies all the time.

European Painting

legion of honor san francisco, waterhouse
St. Cecilia, Waterhouse, 1895

There are rooms and rooms of beautiful paintings by European artists covering several centuries: the Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, Neo-classical, Impressionist, and Post-impressionist styles are all well-represented here.

legion of honor san francisco, french painting, boy singing
The Candlelight Master, French, 1620
legion of honor san francisco, russian wedding
The Russian Bride's Attire, Makovsky, 1887

An unusual painting, in a fitting frame: Fairies in a Bird's Nest, by John Anster Fitzgerald, 1860.

legion of honor san francisco, fairies

Sculpture Galleries

The Rodin Collection

legion of honor san francisco, rodin sculpture, call to arms
Call To Arms, Rodin

The Legion of Honor has a large collection of Rodin sculptures, including "The Kiss" and "The Three Shadows", and of course, "The Thinker".

All three of these works are independent casts of figures originally contained in the The Gates of Hell, a massive, 20 foot sculpture located in the Orsay Museum in Paris, with casts in a number of other locations, including Stanford University.

The work illustrates scenes from Dante's Inferno. Originally, "The Thinker" may have represented Dante, pondering the fate of humanity in his Divine Comedy (some believe it's meant to be Rodin, or Adam).

legion of honor san francisco, rodin, gates of hell sculpture
The Gates of Hell, Rodin, Zurich

Other European Sculpture

The Legion of Honor's sculpture collection covers a wide range, from ancient Greece and Rome, up to the early 20th century.

legion of honor san francisco, columbus as a boy, sculpture
Columbus as a Boy, Monteverde, 1872
legion of honor san francisco, picasso sculpture, the orator
The Orator, Picasso

The Antiquities Collection

The Ancient World is also on display: Egyptian sarcophagi and scarabs, Persian carvings, Assyrian artifacts, Greek and Roman statuary, and more.

legion of honor san francisco, egyptian tomb relief
Egyptian Tomb Relief, 660 B.C.

The Porcelain Gallery

legion of honor san francisco, porcelain gallery

Delightful assortment of cup, plates, fanciful teapots and Commedia dell'Arte figurines.

legion of honor san francisco, porcelain cup
legion of honor san francisco, porcelain bowl

legion of honor san francisco, porcelain artichoke
legion of honor san francisco, porcelain teapot, leafy vegetable

Furniture and Decorative Arts Collection

Loads of finely crafted French furnishings, mostly from the 17th and 18th centuries, including some pieces belonging to Marie Antoinette.

legion of honor san francisco, baroque litter
No Need to Walk
legion of honor san francisco, wood inlay, table
Inlay Work on Table

Things to do at the Legion of Honor

Docents tours

There are a number of free docent's tours every day at the Legion of Honor, including Highlights of the European Collection and Three Masterpieces in Thirty Minutes. See docent tours for their current schedule.

Concerts at the Legion of Honor

Free organ concerts on Saturday and Sundays at 4:00 p.m. in The Rodin Gallery. The organ is a 1924 Skinner organ, and 4500 pipes are hidden behind the canvas ceiling that is painted to look like marble. More pipes are concealed in other areas of the museum.

The organ is designed to imitate the sounds of the various instruments of an orchestra, including percussion. There's another Skinner organ at the National Cathedral in Washington D. C.

Occasional full scale classical music concerts are given at the museum. I went to one by the Philharmonia Baroque there... beautiful music, beautiful setting and easy parking!

Check with the Legion of Honor website for the current calendar of events.

Legion of Honor Hours and Fees

Museum Hours

Tuesday through Sunday: 9:30 am to 5:15 pm
Friday: 9:30 am to 8:45 pm
Closed Monday

Admission Prices

Adults $15
Seniors 65+ $10
College Students $6
17 and under, active duty U.S. military Free

The entry fee is for general admission; special exhibitions often have an additional fee, unless you are a member.

Save Some Money

Free first Tuesday of every month.

Muni ticket: show your Fast Pass, BART ticket, or a Muni transfer and get $2 off the entry fee.

Note: I may earn a small commission if you make a purchase through some of the links on this page, at no extra cost to you. This helps me provide all the free information I post on this website.

Book through Skyline Sightseeing to save $2.

Become a member of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Free admission for you and a friend, or get a family membership. Individual memberships start at $119 per year.

Get a multiple-attraction pass that includes the museum:

Also, with a ticket to the Legion of Honor San Francisco, you can also get free admission to the de Young museum for the same day. And vice-versa.

Food and Shopping

There is a cafe on the lower level as well as a museum store with all sorts of attractive art-related things to spend money on.

Getting to the Legion of Honor

The Legion of Honor art museum is located at the edge of the wild and beautiful Lands End area in the northwest corner of the city.

By Bus:

The 18-46th Avenue bus stops right in front of the museum, the best choice.

Two other buses (1-California and 38-Geary) come within a block or two of the entrance to the park at 34th Ave and Clement St. From those stops, you can walk to the museum (about 20 minutes) or transfer to the 18 bus which gets you right to the front door.

By Car:

34th Avenue in the Richmond District heads into Lincoln Park at Clement Street, and winds through the park to the museum.

Parking Heaven! The Legion of Honor is one of the few attractions in San Francisco that has plenty of free, convenient parking in their own parking lot. The only time the lot tends to fill up is at the beginning or end of a popular special exhibition.

Hop On Hop Off Buses

You can get out to the Legion of Honor museum on a hop on hop off bus tour now. Skyline Sightseeing added a Parks and Beaches loop that takes people out to the western side of the city, with access to Lands End, the Cliff House and Ocean Beach. That loop is included in their 2-day and 3-day bus passes.

One of the stops is at the Legion of Honor; see Hop On Hop Off tours for more info and booking.

Map of the Legion of Honor San Francisco

legion of honor san francisco map
Map data (c) OpenStreetMap and contributors, CC-BY-SA

Links to Related Pages

The de Young Museum is the other San Francisco fine arts museum. Modern art, fabric art, plus the art of Africa, Oceania, and Mesoamerica.

Lands End is the beautiful setting for the Legion of Honor Museum. Walk the trails with gorgeous views of the Golden Gate.

Links to Related Pages

The de Young Museum is the other San Francisco fine arts museum. Modern art, fabric art, plus the art of Africa, Oceania, and Mesoamerica.

Lands End is the beautiful setting for the Legion of Honor Museum. Walk the trails with gorgeous views of the Golden Gate.

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Scroll down for COVID updates.

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Legion of Honor

COVID-19 Status: at midnight on Monday, March 16, San Francisco was placed under a "shelter-in-place order.

All residents were ordered to stay home, except for necessary trips to grocery stores and essential medical visits, and solo outdoor activities like hiking.

The city was gradually reopening of many businesses and activities, but in December, came under a strict, stay-at-home directive, due to a sudden increase in infection and hospitalization rates.

Since then, Covid numbers had dropped significantly, but recently started rising again.

Big changes arrived June 15, 2021: California is "fully reopened", meaning all business sectors will reopen to full or almost full capacity, including concerts, stadium sports and festivals. SF is basically open, though somewhat more cautious in some regards.

As of August 20, 2021, almost 80% of eligible SF residents have been fully vaccinated.

Vaccine requirements: Starting August 20, 2021, SF requires that all restaurants, bars, theaters and gyms check for proof of full vaccination.

Documents accepted: paper or digital vaccination records.

See SF Chron article re: vaccination.

Public transportation options had been cut back, but are expanding again. See SF transit for more info.

The cable cars are running again and are free during August! In September, they will resume full (paid) service, starting with the Powell-Hyde Line, and the other 2 lines to follow after.

See COVID rules for current SF status.

Mask rules: another change, starting August 3, 2021. Everyone is now required to wear a mask indoors in SF, whether vaccinated or not. People may go without masks outdoors unless the area is densely populated. Hospitals, schools, nursing homes and public transit, still require masks./p>

What is open? Muir Woods, the Botanic Gardens, Golden Gate Park, Japanese Tea Garden, Pier 39, SF beaches, Golden Gate Bridge, and Twin Peaks (car access on Portola, main parking lot open) are all open.

Parking lots for SF beaches, Twin Peaks, and the Golden Gate Bridge are open, including the Welcome Center lot.

Restaurants can now be open to full capacity for indoor and outdoor dining, and many restaurants are open for take-out or delivery.

Bars that serve food can serve customers indoors.

Businesses can allow customers inside, up to full capacity. Malls are open.

The SF Zoo is open again.

Offices can reopen up to full capacity.

Alcatraz is open. The Day Tours and Night Tours are running on a somewhat reduced basis. The Cell Block is open also. See Alcatraz.

Hair salons, and open air tour buses, outdoor walking tours, and boat cruises can now operate.

Indoor museums are open, including the CA Academy of Sciences.

Travel to SF. Per the California Dept. of Public Health: non-essential travel to SF from outside California is discouraged but the quarantine requirements are no longer in effect.

Unvaccinated travelers are urged to get tested before and after arrival, and to self-quarantine for 7 days, but this isn't mandatory.

"Non-essential travel" basically means tourism.

Hotels are accepting reservations, but travelers are urged to limit contact with others in the hotel.

Exploratorium: open.

Playgrounds: open.

Indoor swimming pools are open to fullcapacity.

Schools: private schools are open. SF public schools started in-person learning for elementary students April 12. Older grades: negotiations are ongoing. Hopefully all grade levels will be open for in-person fall classes. Masks will be required for students in SF public schools in the fall.

Indoor gyms and indoor movie theaters are open to full capacity.

Indoor concerts, live theater, and sporting events, may open at full capacity. For indoor gatherings of >5,000, proof of vaccination will be required.

Outdoor events for >10,000: may require proof of vaccination or negative test, but aren't required to.

Check individual events for requirements.

Napa and Sonoma county wineries are open.

For a handy list of what's open or closed, in California, see California reopening schedules.

See coronavirus news in the SF Chronicle for details and updates.

Also see site and parking lot closures for the National Park Service (Alcatraz, Muir Woods, etc.)

Plus helpful info on which parks and hiking trails are open in the Bay Area.

And to check the air quality (fires) in SF and the Bay Area, see and the SF Chronicle map showing current tests.

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