Legion of Honor

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Known formally as the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, this venerated fine arts museum is one of the city’s most treasured gems of beauty and culture. Situated on a breathtaking patch of land in Lincoln Park, the Legion of Honor offers visitors a one-of-a-kind experience in art and culture that is rooted in the history of San Francisco itself.

History

The establishment of the Legion of Honor is entirely thanks to native San Franciscan Alma de Bretteville Spreckels, the wife of sugar magnate Adolph Spreckles, who is also known as “The Great Grandmother of San Francisco.” After attending the San Francisco Panama Pacific International Exposition in 1915, Mrs. Spreckles was so impressed with the French Pavilion and its replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur located in Paris that she wanted to make the attraction a fixture of the San Francisco landscape. She therefore persuaded her husband to buy land in the northwest part of the city and begin construction of San Francisco’s own Legion of Honor overlooking the Golden Gate, and eventually the bridge that shares its name.

The building was completed in 1924 and donated by the Spreckels Family to the City of San Francisco. It was meant to add to the beauty and culture of the city while also honoring the 3,600 men from California who had lost their lives in World War I. Of its construction Mr. Spreckles expressed his hope that this museum would become a “home of art and historical treasures, to [promote] the education and culture of our citizens, and especially the rising and coming generations,” a wish that has clearly been fulfilled.

The California Palace of the Legion of Honor, though based on the Paris palace designed by Pierre Rousseau, was separately designed by California native George Applegarth. It is three quarters the size of the original. The new building also took care to incorporate all the modern advancements to design available to them at the time and has since been renovated to improve its seismic strengthening as well as expand its gallery space to accommodate its large collection.

Today, the Legion of Honor is one of the most architecturally stunning and beautifully situated buildings within the San Francisco city limits. Its elevated placement in Lincoln Park with views of the Golden Gate Bridge offer rich photographic opportunities along with the enrichment options within its halls. All told, the museum’s collection includes over 87,000 paintings that cover over 4,000 years of human artistic expression. This includes works from names as famous as El Greco, Rubens, Rodin, and Monet.

Main Attraction

The Legion of Honor is located at 100 34th Avenue, at the intersection with Clement Street at Lincoln Park in the northwest corridor of the city. The spectacular Beaux-Arts building is called the city’s Most Beautiful museum and is easily accessible via public transportation, in fact Muni pass holders receive an admissions discount.

The museum is open year round from Tuesday-Sunday (closed Mondays) except on Christmas, Thanksgiving, and New Year’s Day. Admission to the Legion of Honor is priced in three groups: adults, students/seniors, and children. Guests under the age of 12 are free and general admission includes same-day entrance to the de Young museum, located nearby in Golden Gate Park. General admission is also free to everyone on the first Tuesday of each month.

Visitors interested in a more in-depth picture of the museum and its works are welcome to attend free docent-led tours offered throughout the day. There is also an option that allows guest to pay an additional fee for private led tour or to rent audio tours for special exhibitions. Also on ground is a small café and gift shop.

Why It’s a Must-See

The view of and from the Legion of Honor is reason enough to visit this gem of the San Francisco cultural scene. However, there is so much more that this fine arts house has to offer guests including fantastic galleries and timeless works guaranteed to make the trip not only beautiful, but memorable.

Where to Buy It


There are a number of ways you can enjoy admission to this attraction.
Save up to 20% online at Smart Destinations. If you add more than one attraction to the cart, you will get an automatic savings of up to 20%. It’s called Make Your Own Pass.

Pay Full Price and purchase a ticket from Legion of Honor either online or in person.
Purchase a Tourist pass. The Legion of Honor is available on the Go SF Card