San Francisco – Everyday Insider (TM) Trip 21D

Continuing with a list of Everyday Insider! (TM) venues which tourists to San Francisco can use to enjoy California life with the locals, I am describing the California Palace of the Legion of Honor art museum again, today.

It is on the famed, official 49 Mile Scenic Drive that I have been sharing with you. Today we’re back at the Legion of Honor a 3/4 replica of the building in Paris.

This intimate, refined, classically-European museum is a sister to the more well-known de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park (which is nearby). Admission to one allows for admission to the other, but only on the same day. You can read more in my first article at California Palace of the Legion of Honor.

Situated in Lincoln Park, in the uppermost NW corner of San Francisco, the Legion of Honor enjoys an enviable location overlooking the headlands, Golden Gate Bridge, and the Pacific Ocean.

At the entrance, coming past a cast of Rodin’s famous sculpture, “The Thinker”, made from the original molds, the tone is set. This began as a personal collection, of a philanthropist with impeccable taste, Alma deBretteville Spreckles, wife of a California-Hawaii sugar magnate Adolph Spreckles. Her collection spans 6,000 of human creativity.

There are Near East antiquities, European painting from the 14th century onward, an esteemed collection of six centuries of prints and drawings, 18th century porcelain from England and France, and the Rodin sculptures – of which it is justifiably proud.

The Rodin sculpture selection is absolutely stunning and people who’ve been to the Rodin Museum in Paris are still impressed with the Legion’s pieces. The paintings are organized chronologically and are from almost every artistic movement in Europe. They don’t have a huge selection of Impressionist work, but it is still an amazing collection and they often have visiting shows.

As the museum is U-shaped, you come to a dead-end and have to return the way you came, so you might plan to just see one side of a room or a set of rooms, and then see the other side as you return.

Chosen with a discerning eye and classical knowledge, it is a relatively small collection, under 1,400 objects, but it contains a number of rare works, of high quality and importance, which form the basis for an excellent introduction to the art of the cultures represented.

The main strength of this ancient sector collection lies in Greek vase painting. There are over 100 examples representing most periods of Greek art from the prehistoric to the end of the classical age.

Among the most important classic Near East objects are nine carved ivory plaques and a palace wall relief from the 9th — 7th centuries B.C. Assyrian site of Nimrud. These epitomize a high point in the history of Ancient Near Eastern art and have few equals in museum collections worldwide.

The most recent acquisitions include an exquisitely carved Persian sculpture of an Offering Bearer (ca. 490–470 B.C.) from the fabled ancient site of Persepolis, which in style and form connects ancient Near Eastern art with the classical world.

Docent tours are available everyday and these are free with museum admission.

In addition to regular exhibits and collections, the Legion of Honor offers lectures and musical performances. There are also special art and entertainment events like Cinema Supper Club and a Jazz Brunch.

Hidden within this beautiful museum is the Legion of Honor Café, just right for a bite to eat while visiting the museum.

The café occupies a private niche on the garden level of the museum, and it has a view of the park’s numerous cypress trees and Monterey pines. The granite patio, shaded by a canopy of mature olive trees, provides a classically inspired setting for an al fresco celebration in this most-European part of San Francisco.

Indoors,the café’s large picture windows and French doors infuse the restaurant with natural light, accentuating the room’s high ceiling, hardwood floors, glazed plaster walls and antiqued mirror panels. The effect echoes the airy, refined ambiance of the museum’s galleries.

This is a perfect venue in its own right for exclusive events, romantic receptions and business functions. Sliding silver-leaf doors can divide the 3,000-square-foot space into a variety of configurations — making it equally suitable for large or small conventions or parties. Amazingly, you may also rent the entire museum, and host a ceremony and/or cocktail party amidst the amazing Rodin Sculpture Collection!

Legion of Honor
100 34th Ave (at Clement), San Francisco (415) 750-3600
Legion of Honor Café – (415) 863-3330

Adult admission is approximately $20 a person before any discounts.

Hours:
Tuesday-Sunday 9:30AM-5:15PM, January – November
Friday until 8:45PM
First Tuesday of the month is FREE.
Museum discounts when receipt from public transportation Muni Fast Pass or transfer ticket to the museum is shown.

Parking:
in front of the museum on Legion of Honor Drive and El Camino del Mar.

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©2010 mystic at Travel Vacation Review

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