Starting April 6, the de Young and Legion of Honor will admit San Franciscans for free every Saturday. The initiative will accept photo ID or a postmarked envelope as proof of residence, part of an effort to provide wider access to the museums’ collections.
Currently, general admission tickets at both museums, which operate under the umbrella organization of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF) clock in at $15 per adult. Special exhibitions like Gauguin: A Spiritual Journey or East Meets West: Jewels of the Maharajas from the Al Thani Collection currently run at $28 per adult. (Unfortunately, come April 6, special exhibitions will remain full price.)
But even these prices aren’t the highest in the Bay Area museum world. Adults at SFMOMA pay $25 each. And admission prices at the California Academy of Sciences top the list at $35.95 per adult, $25.95 per child; a family of three can spend around $100 just to visit the combination aquarium, planetarium and natural history museum.
Pointing to rising costs of living in the Bay Area, new FAMSF director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell stated in a press release, “We must serve the city that we represent. Step one is making sure that every resident can step foot in its museums. That starts with access. That starts with accessibility.”
This isn’t a radically new stance for the FAMSF, but more of a return to its founding principles. City funding accounts for approximately 24 percent of the FAMSF’s operating expenses (a $14.9 million appropriation in the 2018 fiscal year). As "city museums," a requirement of institutional accessibility is written into San Francisco's City Charter.