Other Writings

The Beginnings of San Francisco’s Art Museums

Art museums have burgeoned in San Francisco in recent years. Between 1995 and 2005, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the de Young Museum moved into newly constructed buildings, the Asian Art Museum moved from Golden Gate Park to the remodeled Old Main Library in the Civic Center, and the Legion of Honor completed a major addition. Now the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is making plans for a 100,000-square-foot expansion.

San Francisco is justly proud of these four museums. But how did a city of its size come to have four major public art museums rather than one?  The norm in this country, at least outside of New York, is for a city to feature a single art museum with a “comprehensive” collection representing more or less the entire history of art.  This encyclopedic model was envisioned for San Francisco in the late nineteenth century, but it never materialized. Some fascinating stories, involving determined women, colorful personalities, and family feuds, are behind this phenomenon.

To read more, download my article from The Argonaut, Journal of the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society 21:2 (Winter 2010).

William Keith: California’s Poet-Painter

Download my article from  American Art Review 6:6 (Dec 1994).

California Paintings, 1910-1940: Selections from the Mills College Collection

Download my article from  American Art Review  12:5 (Sept 2000).

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