Legion of Honor (credit: Randy Yagi)
Legion Of Honor
100 34th Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94121
The Legion of Honor is considered San Francisco’s most beautiful museum and, along with the De Young Museum in Golden Gate Park, comprises the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Collectively, the two prestigious museums represent one of the most visited museums in America, although attendance at the Legion of Honor is considerably less than the De Young. But that doesn’t mean the Legion of Honor is any less important. Indeed, the stately museum holds one of the country’s largest collections of drawings and prints, in addition to several priceless works of art from some of history’s most famous artists, including Pablo Picasso, Rembrandt van Rijn, Claude Monet and Auguste Rodin, including a bronze cast of his most famous sculpture “The Thinker.”
First opened to the public in 1924, the Legion of Honor is a three-quarter-scale replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, with permission granted by the French government. Originally known as the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Beau-arts museum was a gift to the city of San Francisco from Alma de Bretteville-Spreckels, the wife of sugar magnate Adolph B. Spreckels to commemorate the 3,600 Californian soldiers who died in World War I.
The Legion of Honor is located in historic Lincoln Park in the northwestern section of San Francisco near Land’s End. The museum is 2.7 miles south of the Golden Gate Bridge and 1.2 miles north of Golden Gate Park. Motorists can reach the museum entrance either from 34th Ave. at Clement St. or the Lincoln Highway near 32nd Ave.
By Public Transportation
San Francisco Muni provides only one direct bus route, 18-46th Avenue to the Legion of Honor. This route does not serve downtown San Francisco and instead originates from the Stonestown Galleria near Lake Merced. Visitors traveling from the downtown area can take route 38-Geary and then transfer to route 18-46th Avenue at 33rd Ave. and Geary. Alternatively, visitors can deboard off route 38-Geary at 33rd Ave. and Geary and walk approximately 0.6 miles to the museum entrance. Route 1-California also provides service from the Financial District to 33rd and Clement, where visitors can then walk half a mile.
Free parking is limited around the fountain in front of the museum’s entrance and generally fills up quickly before 11 a.m. on weekends and holidays. Additional parking can be found just west of the museum on El Camino del Mar but also fills up quickly on weekends and holidays.
The Legion of Honor is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. On Dec. 24, Dec. 31 and July 4, the museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The museum is closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas.
General admission is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors ages 65 and over, $6 for youths ages 13-17 and $6 for college students with valid ID. Children under 12 are free. There is free admission on the first Tuesday of the month. General admission is also free for veterans and active military personnel with valid ID on Veteran’s Day. Bank of America debit or credit card holders are eligible for free admission on the first full weekend of every month. Reservations for group visits can be made through the group sales office.
Selected Highlights From The Permanent Collections
The Thinker (credit: Randy Yagi)
Rodin’s “The Thinker”
Water Lilies (credit: Randy Yagi)
Holocaust Memorial (credit: Randy Yagi)
George Segal’s Holocaust Memorial
The Grand Canal (credit: Randy Yagi)
Monet’s “The Grand Canal”
The Orator (credit: Randy Yagi)
Picasso’s “The Orator”
1. The plaza and fountain in front of the Legion of Honor is the western terminus of the Lincoln Highway. The Lincoln Highway was the first transcontinental highway across the United States.
2. Lincoln Park was formerly the site of Golden Gate Cemetery from 1868 to 1909. Eventually, all the bodies were removed and relocated to Colma, just south of San Francisco.
3. The Legion of Honor was prominently featured in the 1958 Alfred Hitchcock movie “Vertigo.” Filmed primarily in San Francisco, “Vertigo” is considered among the greatest American movies of all time.
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Randy Yagi is a freelance writer covering all things San Francisco. In 2012, he was awarded a Media Fellowship from Stanford University. His work can be found on Examiner.com Examiner.com.