These San Francisco Museums Announced Free Saturday Admission for Bay Area Residents

Big turnout numbers show the program is already working.

Following the success of Free Saturdays—a program offering free admission to San Francisco residents every Saturday—the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco announced that they will be extending the program to include the entire Bay Area. Starting October 19, general admission to the de Young and Legion of Honor museums will be free every Saturday for all residents of the nine-county Bay Area.

Admission costs for the first year of the program are underwritten by a significant gift from Diane B. Wilsey, Chair Emerita of the Corporation of the Fine Arts Museums (COFAM) board.

“A vibrant cultural scene is an essential component of a flourishing society, but the Bay Area is an increasingly expensive place to live, which can make the cost of museums prohibitive for many,” states Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Now, through the enormous generosity of Dede Wilsey, we will be able to open our doors to the 7 million residents living in the Bay Area today, removing monetary barriers.”

The Free Saturdays program was originally launched on April 6, 2019, to expand access for all residents of San Francisco. It has been in effect for almost six months and has already welcomed more than 20,000 visitors. Among those, first-time visitors to the Museums increased by almost 80 percent, with the increase among family visitors at 70 percent and low-income (under $25K a year) households at almost 100 percent.

“The de Young and Legion of Honor museums have held a special place in my heart for well over 20 years,” says Diane B. Wilsey. “I enjoy living in the Bay Area, and with this gift it is my distinct honor to have the opportunity to help others discover the art, architecture, and other wonders that these incredible museums have to offer.”

In addition to granting free general admission on Saturdays, the de Young and Legion of Honor also offer expanded programming as part of the Free Saturdays lineup, including gallery talks, book signings, talks and lectures, family art making, and more. The ever-popular Spreckels organ concerts will continue to take place at the Legion of Honor. All of this programming will also be free.

“Free Saturday admission to these important City institutions helps break down financial barriers that have historically prevented people from experiencing all that San Francisco has to offer,” said Mayor London Breed. “I want to thank Diane Wilsey for her generous support of this program and for her decades of support for the arts community. I look forward to seeing folks from across the Bay Area at The de Young and Legion of Honor on Saturdays.”

The expanded Free Saturdays program joins other free and reduced-admission programs at the Fine Arts Museums, including Free Tuesdays, Free Access, Museums for All, and Discover & Go. Youth ages 17 and under are always free. Details on all the free and reduced-admission program follow.

For more information, visit www.famsf.org.

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