Exploring San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Through Photos

Welcome to a visual journey through the renowned San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Situated in the bustling downtown district, this iconic museum has been showcasing some of the most iconic works of art since it reopened to the public in 2016, after a major renovation. From photography and painting to sculpture and installations, SFMOMA boasts a diverse collection that highlights modern and contemporary art from around the world. Through a collection of vibrant and eye-catching photos, we will take you on a virtual tour of this amazing museum, where creativity meets innovation and science meets imagination.

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art Photos

If you’re a photography enthusiast and happen to be visiting San Francisco, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is a must-visit attraction. It is a renowned museum that holds an impressive collection of over 33,000 works of art, including paintings, sculptures, and photographs. This article focuses on the photo collection of the SFMOMA and provides information about its history and notable works.


The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a world-class art destination that opened its doors in 1935 and has played a prominent role in the art scene of San Francisco ever since. The museum is renowned not only for its vast collection of contemporary art but also for its stunning architecture that underwent a massive renovation in 2016. The museum now boasts a 10-story granite and glass addition, making it one of the largest modern art museums in the United States.

The museum’s photography collection is one of its main attractions, with a vast array of works ranging from classic photographs to experimental pieces. The museum’s curators have long embraced photography as a significant art form and have continually expanded its collection.

The History of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was founded in 1935 by Grace McCann Morley and was the first museum on the West Coast dedicated solely to modern art. It initially opened in the War Memorial Veterans Building on Van Ness Avenue, and in 1995, it moved to its current location in the Yerba Buena District in downtown San Francisco.

The museum’s architecture is a piece of art in itself and has undergone several transformations over the years. Designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta, the building had its first restoration in 1995, which included the addition of the Rooftop Garden. In 2016, the museum went through extensive renovation and expansion, adding ten floors of gallery space, including a new sky bridge that connects the original building with the new building. Today, SFMOMA stands as an exceptional showcase of modern art and is well-recognized for its innovative and artistic design.

Highlights of the Photo Collection

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has an ever-expanding collection of photographs that represent the diversity of the art form. The museum’s collection contains works by some of the most influential photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, and Walker Evans. Below are some of the highlights of the SFMOMA’s photo collection.

Ansel Adams’ “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico”: Ansel Adams is undoubtedly one of the most iconic photographers in American history, and his photograph “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” is one of the most recognizable photographs of all time. The SFMOMA’s collection holds several of Adams’ works.

Dorothea Lange’s “Migrant Mother”: Dorothea Lange is another significant American photographer known for her social documentary photography. Her photograph “Migrant Mother” portrays a woman and her children during the Great Depression and has become one of the most iconic photographs in American history.

Richard Misrach’s “Golden Gate”: Richard Misrach is an American photographer renowned for his color photographs of the western United States. His photograph “Golden Gate” is a stunning depiction of the Golden Gate Bridge, captured at sunrise, in beautiful shades of orange and blue.

Robert Mapplethorpe’s “Ken Moody and Robert Sherman”: This photograph is famous for its dramatic lighting, composition, and subject matter. Mapplethorpe was an American photographer who was known for his controversial works that often featured nudity and sexuality.

The SFMOMA’s photo collection consists of works that are both aesthetically beautiful and socially impactful, making it an excellent destination for art enthusiasts and photographers alike.


The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a gem to the world of art and a heaven for photography enthusiasts. Its vast collection of photographs represents the diversity of the art form and showcases the work of some of the most influential photographers of all time. The museum’s stunning architecture is an architectural masterpiece and has undergone several transformations over the years. The SFMOMA is undoubtedly an attraction that should be on every art lover’s bucket list.

Exhibitions Featuring Photography

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) is not only one of the largest modern art museums in the United States, but it also has an extensive collection of photography. The museum has a special department for photography, which ensures that it maintains its collection and organizes exhibitions featuring some of the most significant works of contemporary photography.

Current Exhibitions

For photography enthusiasts and art lovers, the SFMOMA is currently presenting a range of exhibitions. An exhibition worth checking out is “New Work: Charles Gaines and Laure Provoust”.1 This exhibition is a collaboration between two distinct artists who may seem like an unlikely pairing. The exhibition features the works of Charles Gaines, who is known for his grid-like paintings and sculptures, and Laure Provoust, best known for her video installations.

Another of the SFMOMA’s current exhibitions is “Selves and Others: Gifts to the Collection from Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein”.2 This exhibit features photography gifts donated by Carla Emil and Rich Silverstein to the museum. The photographs in the exhibition come from artists such as Richard Avedon, Diane Arbus, William Eggleston, and many others.

Past Exhibitions

The SFMOMA has a rich history of organizing notable exhibitions featuring photography. One such past exhibition is “Snap + Share: Transmitting Photographs from Mail Art to Social Networks.3” This exhibition explored the influence of mail art and early online networks on the sharing of photographs in contemporary culture.

Another significant past exhibition was “Exposed: Voyeurism, Surveillance, and the Camera Since 1870.”4 This exhibition presented different perspectives and themes relating to voyeurism, surveillance, and the ethical and social implications of these practices within photography.

Upcoming Exhibitions

The SFMOMA always has something new and exciting lined up for photography enthusiasts. One of the next exhibitions to look forward to is “Collected: Building the SFMOMA Collection.5” This exhibition will showcase some of the museum’s newest acquisitions, including contemporary photography.

The museum is also preparing an exhibition that will highlight the works of one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, Richard Avedon. This exhibition will explore Avedon’s photography style and the stories behind some of his most famous portraits.6

The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is an excellent destination for fans of photography. The museum’s dedication to photography is evident in the quality of its collection and the unique exhibitions it organizes. Whether you are an art enthusiast or a photography fan, this museum is a must-visit.

1. https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/new-work-charles-gaines-laure-provost/
2. https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/selves-and-others-gifts-to-the-collection-from-carla-emil-and-rich-silverstein/
3. https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/snap-and-share/
4. https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/exposed-voyeurism-surveillance-and-the-camera/
5. https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/collected-building-the-sfmoma-collection-2/
6. https://www.sfmoma.org/exhibition/richard-avedon/

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