San Francisco has some exquisite museums. SFMOMA, the De Young, the Legion of Honor and the Asian Art Museum were the ones I visited on this trip. I enjoyed all three, although I think the Legion of Honor just pips the others to the post.
SFMOMA is now shut for a few years for extensive work, so I’m glad that I visited when I did. The building is a fantastic example of modern architecture; shapely, colourful and light. The highlight of my visit there was the superb Garry Winogrand exhibition. His work is raw street photography at its best and it was a wonderful reminder of why I love this art form. It’s touring to Washington, New York, Paris and Madrid and I may just have to have a weekend in Madrid to see it again!
The day was hot and lovely and after our early start for Glide (an absolute must if you’re visiting San Francisco – see my blog about it here), we were exhausted. Couldn’t resist this snap with Mr Cohiba as we walked toward a sunny spot.
We sat for a while in the Yerba Buena gardens to people watch.
That evening, we hooked up again with my cousin, who works at the new and rather fabulous San Francisco Jazz Center. Andrew’s friend Yoni was with us and we started the evening with Pinot Noir. As Andrew commented ‘You guys have a real problem saying no to Pinot’. It’s true. Very little really good Californian wine is exported to the UK and I really do enjoy the Pinot Noirs that small batch producers create in this sunny state.
We had a great evening, watching banjo player Bela Fleck whilst keeping up to date with his wife in labour via his mobile phone. It should have felt distracting but in fact it was a privilege to be part of it!
The Jazz Center won’t be in any guide books yet, as it’s new. I recommend checking it out if you’re heading to SF. Even if there isn’t a gig that interests you, the food and drink in the bar are superb and the staff are that wonderful breed of U.S. people – truly customer-focused, delivering friendly and attentative service. Okay, I’m biased, as my cousin is a barman there, but…
Monday morning dawned bright and sunny again. We headed off early, intending to visit the Legion of Honor before walking to the Golden Gate Bridge. Alas, we hadn’t read our guide books accurately and the museum was shut but it didn’t matter, as we had intended to hike from Land’s End to the bridge and over anyway. I had walked part of this route with my cousin on the previous Sunday but from the bridge to Sutro Baths. This way round was so much better – each corner we turned gave a new view of the bridge and the coastline is beautiful. Here’s the pics, so you can judge for yourself. The paths are clearly marked and once again, I’d factor this in as an absolute must.
I’m glad we decided not to hire bikes for our bridge visit. Walking over meant that we took our time to take in the architecture, the glow of the ‘International Orange’ paint (note that one down for trivia quizzes!) and the views. It’s only 2km across, so a walk there and back is a breeze (literally – do take something warm, even on a sunny day!)
I would love to showcase Heather’s pictures here, as they are heaps better than mine but you’ll have to make do with what I have!
Over the next couple of days, we visited three more musuems. The de Young is in Golden Gate Park and is a controversial building, as it was resisted by many locals. I’m a fan of modern and striking architecture in unexpected settings but I struggled to see the beauty in the design. However, inside it really works. We went round with a wonderful docent called Lenore, who introduced us to art we simply might have glossed over had we wandered around unguided. It’s worth considering if you go there. Oh, a do make time to go up to the viewing platform – more great views of the city!
We successfully went back to the Legion of Honor, which has the second largest collection of Rodin sculptures in the world. It was exquisite and I very nearly missed it – all thanks to H for spotting that this was something we definitely should get to.
Our third museum was the Asian Art Museum, filled with a mouth-watering array of treasures from all over Asia. Again, we joined a docent, who took us round some of the highlights. As in many museums, Heather and I challenged each other to pick just *one* item that we would take home if we could. We squabbled over this gorgeous rhinoceros and she won.
As I couldn’t snaffle the rhino, I went for a delicate Japanese figure. His enigmatic face makes me happy. I don’t ‘do’ ornaments but if I could lay my hands on something like this, perhaps I would!
By Carole Scott
- Back to San Francisco: Hills and happiness (carolemscott.wordpress.com)
- Promotion out of demolition: SFMOMA (matthewspaur.wordpress.com)
- Photographer Peter Stackpole captures building the Bay Bridge (sfgate.com)