Enjoy the Freedom to Create in San Francisco
San Francisco is home to world renowned performing arts companies, fine art institutions, and music organizations with proud histories and traditions, as well as cutting-edge contemporary artists creating startling new works that expand our perceptions and shatter expectations. We are home to incredible, award-winning creators, curators, and arts educators who not only produce works seen and heard around the world but also influence what is seen in museums, on stages, and in galleries worldwide.
In a city that has long been synonymous with experimentation, collaboration, and diversity, there is a freedom to create that permeates every aspect of life here. It's a feeling matched by few other destinations, and it's something you can experience every moment of your next visit to San Francisco. Explore the breadth and depth of San Francisco's cultural scene and chase your creative spirit.
San Francisco's must-see museums cover a wide variety of topics and experiences. See fine art from antiquity to the twentieth century at the de Young Museum and the Legion of Honor. Explore the most striking contemporary works at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Immerse yourself in different cultures at the Asian Art Museum, the Contemporary Jewish Musuem, and the Museum of the African Diaspora. Learn about the natural world and the human mind at the California Academy of Sciences and the Exploratorium. Revel in bold, unconventional visual art at the Museum of Craft and Design. Each of these institutions offer fascinating collections, creative programming, and special opportunities to dive deeper into the topics that interest you.
Whether you're looking for the latest Broadway smash, a nineteenth century classic, or an avant-garde surprise, San Francisco theater has what you're looking for. The American Conservatory Theater and The Curran develop daring new works, while SHN brings the best of Broadway to its Oprheum and Golden Gate theaters. The New Conservatory Theatre Center and EXIT Theatre regularly produce shows with countercultural and queer perspectives. The Victoria Theater puts new spins on old favorites (an all-female "Jesus Christ Superstar," for instance). Last but by no means least, the San Francisco Opera is one of the most celebrated opera companies in the world, regularly staging the classics in inventive new ways.
San Francisco is—and always has been—a city of dance, from the founding of America's first professional ballet company in the 1930s to the twenty year-old San Francisco International Hip Hop Dance Festival, which attracts performers from all over the world. Companies as varied as the Alonzo King LINES Ballet and ODC Dance Commons push the boundaries of what dance (and dancers) can accomplish. There are plenty of dance festivals to plan your trip around, including Bay Area Dance Week in the spring and the San Francisco Ethnic Dance Festival in the summer.
A city as diverse as San Francisco always has plenty to celebrate, and the annual festivals that celebrate our citizens' heritage are a great example of art uniting community. From the Chinese New Year Parade in February to Carnaval in May and our numerous winter holiday traditions, San Francisco offers cultural festivals all year round that can add unexpected excitement to your visit.
What other city could turn the 10,000-foot span of a suspension bridge built in the 1930s into one of the twenty-first century's most breathtaking pieces of light art? San Francisco is a city full of more than two dozen permanent, large-scale light art installations that dazzle and delight. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day each year, even more artworks are erected across the city in the annual Illuminate SF Festival of Light.
From the days of Fillmore jazz to the psychedelic Summer of Love to the electronic sounds of today, San Francisco has been home to some of music's greatest pioneers. You can hear their legacies today in music venues across the city, including the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, SFJAZZ Center, and The Fillmore. The world's most in-demand DJs perform in the city's many nightclubs, and the San Francisco Symphony still plays the works of master composers at Davies Symphony Hall.
Museums aren't the only places where great art lives in San Francisco. The city's numerous galleries offer you the chance to see works by local artists, and sometimes witness the creative process itself. There are even places where you can join in and make something truly unique to commemorate your visit. Just like the rest of the city's arts community, San Francisco's art galleries are inviting, open spaces where you're not expected to think with your wallet, but rather to engage with your senses.