Many artists and admirers would agree that art should be free to view by the public. Many museums, local governments, artists and their philanthropic admirers believe this as well. Thanks to their generosity, we the public are able to view pieces for free or at a low-cost to us the viewer.
Art galleries, museums and public outdoor art is a great way to get to know a destination especially when you are on a budget. Most cities around the U.S. these days have sponsored free or discounted nights, days and evenings at many major galleries and museums.
In San Francisco there are many opportunities to see art for free in museums or just on the Street. I started with a visit to SFMOMA on Tuesday where they have AT&T Free First Tuesdays. Visitors to the Bay Area are able to see its great displays of works thanks to AT&T generous $10 Million gift to the museum in late 2008. The museum is located in the SOMA or South of Market neighborhood of San Francisco and right across from Yerba Buena Gardens. This fall and early winter is a great time to visit SFMOMA since the 75th Anniversary is being celebrated by a showing 400 pieces of works that represent what SFMOMA has been throughout those years. Highlights include masterpieces by Jackson Pollock, Jeff Koons and Barry McKee. If you don’t happen to be there during a free Tuesday the museum is well worth the full ticket price and it’s a great way to spend a not so uncommon rainy day in the Bay Area.
Another wonderful opportunity to see art for free is at the Asian Art Museum‘s during their Target First Free Sunday’s. The 29,000 square foot museum was relocated in March 2003 into the former main Library Building in the gritty Tenderloin/Civic Center area of San Francisco. It’s new location is much more accessible then it’s previous location in Golden Gate Park and is not too far from the SOMA section of town. It is now a 5-10 minute walk from the MUNI or BART Civic Center Station. The area has cleaned up in the past 10 years since I lived there, but I wouldn’t suggest being there too late in the evening. The current exhibit is a show entitled Beyond Golden Clouds: Five Centuries of Japanese Screens is on view until January 16, 2011. The Target First Free Sunday’s is free to for the general museum but is $5 for special exhibits like the Golden Clouds. The next exhibit to the museum is Bali: Art, Ritual and Performance doesn’t begin until February 25, 2011 but I’m going to try to make it to it if I can get a cheap ticket from JFK next year. Looks amazing.
Being from New York I also expected both museums to be jammed but I was wrong. There was plenty of room and it wasn’t hard to get a good view of the works without bored and restless children and obstructed views. Free days to museums and similar attractions can be found in many other cities. It’s more common then you think. If anything, it’s a good way to save money and maybe try something new if you don’t usually find interest in museums.