San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA) is the largest museum of modern art in the United States.
SFMoMA has about 170,000 square feet of galleries featuring Picasso, Henry Matisse, Chuck Close, Jeff Koons, Frida Kahlo, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, etc.
This article explains everything you must know before buying tickets to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Table of contents
Getting to SFMoMA
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is at 151, 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94103, USA.
The SFMOMA has three entrances.
The main entrance is on Third Street between Mission and Howard.
The second entrance is the entry on Howard Street between Hawthorne and Third Street.
Regular visitors can use either the main entrance or the second entrance to enter the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
After-hours and educational group tours use the Joyce and Larry Stupski entrance at Minna Street.
How to reach SFMoMA
SFMoMA is just 0.65 Kms (half a mile), and visitors usually take eight minutes to walk the distance from Powell Street station.
From Montgomery Street Station, SFMoMA is much closer, and you can reach it in five to six minutes of walking.
If you prefer cable cars, the closest stops are Powell Street and California Street.
If a bus is your preferred mode of transport, get on to any bus heading towards Mission Street, Howard Street, Third Street, or Second Street.
All these streets wrap around the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
SFO’s Museum of Modern Art has its garage on Minna Street, a few steps from Third Street main entrance.
The parking is open from 7 am to 11 pm daily.
From Friday to Tuesday, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art opens at 10 am and closes at 5 pm.
On Thursday, SFMoMA continues to stay open till 9 pm.
The art museum remains closed on Wednesday.
This premier Art Museum in San Francisco is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New year’s Day.
How long does SFMoMA take
Most visitors spend up to three hours exploring the numerous artworks displayed on the seven floors of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
Staying longer at SFMoMA
Tourists who have been to numerous art museums say that art fatigue sets in after approximately 2 to 3 hours of roaming around.
But it is possible to overcome art fatique and spend spend more time at the most prominent art museum in the whole of the USA.
- Be well rested and well fed before your visit
- Buy the SFMoMA ticket online so that you don’t waste your time and energy waiting in the long lines
- Visit one of the cafes and take a break
Best time to visit SFMoMA
The best time to visit SFMoMA is as soon as they open at 10 am on weekdays.
Visiting early in the day helps you avoid the crowd and explore the exhibits at peace.
SFMoMA gets more than 1.25 million art lovers every year, and it can get crowded during peak summer months.
SFMoMA Thursday nights
The next best time to visit San Francisco’s Modern Art Museum is Thursday night.
On Thursdays, the museum is open till 9 pm, with many special events lined up.
If you are staying late in the museum, you can end the day with a Michelin-starred dinner at In Situ, in the in-house restaurant.
The regular SFMoMA ticket gets you to Thursday night as well.
SFMoMA for free
45,000 sq feet of art-filled space at SFMoMA requires no ticket.
There are many artworks on Floor 1 and 2 that offer a great introduction to the art of our time, and visitors can explore for free.
Besides, visitors can also access some of the temporary exhibitions at San Francisco’s Modern Art Museum for free.
SFMoMA free Day
Occasionally, SFMoMA announces Free Family Day with many hands-on activities and movie screenings.
On such days, up to two adults may each claim a free ticket, and they can be accompanied by a visitor 18 years and younger.
You can’t book these free tickets online but claim them at the venue on the free entry day.
The museum hasn’t yet announced the next free family day.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art tickets gives you access to all the permanent collections and the temporary exhibitions at the museum.
These are smartphone tickets – they get emailed to you as soon as you make the purchase.
On the day of your visit, you can show the ticket on your phone along with a valid ID at the entrance and walk in.
Occasionally, there may be a ‘special exhibition’ going on which would require an upgrade. These ticket upgrades can be one on the spot, on the 2nd floor.
Discounts at SFMoMA
At SFMoMA, kids below 18 years get a 100% discount on their tickets. Even though under-18s get in for free, you will still need to book a free ticket.
Youth aged 19 to 24 years pay $6 less for their tickets, and seniors aged 65 and above get a $3 reduction on the total adult price.
SFMoMA ticket price
Adult ticket (25 to 64): $25
Youth ticket (19 to 24): $19
Seniors ticket (65+): $22
Child ticket (0 to 18): Free entry
What to see at SFMoMA
All of the SFMoMA exhibits are fantastic and equally breathtaking, but then it is humanly impossible to see all of them.
One hour masterpieces tour
If you need a quick list of masterpieces to see, it is best to follow what the Director of SFMoMA recommends.
4 to 5 hours tour of SFMoMA
If you can spend four to five hours in the museum, we have a long list for you.
Ground floor: Let’s start with the intricate Richard Serra’s behemoth walk-in sculpture Sequence and then let us climb up.
Second Floor: You can spot Matisse’s Femme au Chapeau along with artworks by Robert Rauschenberg.
Third Floor: Welcome to the floor dedicated to photography. Apart from one-of-a-kind clicks, have a look at Alexander Clader’s “motion Lab”.
Then step outside on the large terrace with a vertical garden and grab a coffee at Sightglass coffee bar.
Fourth Floor: Halfway through the museum, check out the progressive works of Ellsworth Kelly. Up next, you’ll see Agnes Martin’s spirit-raising artworks.
Fifth Floor: You can head to the Fisher Collection with its minimal pop art with Chuck Close and many more. Then step into Café 5 to save yourself from art fatigue.
Sixth Floor: Full and energized, have a look at the Fisher Collection with mind-blowing post-war German masterpieces.
Also, feast your eyes on the Museum’s famous sequence gallery dedicated to Gorge Baselitz and many more.
Seventh Floor: Almost out of time! Let’s run through contemporary pieces by Cindy Sherman and more.
Before you head out, visit the new Museum Store to buy a souvenir.
SFMoMA audio guide
You can’t buy/rent an audio guide for this SFO Art Museum.
However, you can explore SFMoMA with the help of their mobile app, which has beautifully produced stories about the artworks on display.
The apps haven’t been rated well by the tourists who have used them before, but you have got nothing to lose.
Note: Don’t forget to charge your mobile and bring along your earphones.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is a highly-rated tourist attraction.
Check out two SFMoMA reviews we selected from Tripadvisor, which give you an idea of what to expect at this attraction.
Great stop for modern art lovers
I love Modern Art, and this Museum had a little of everything. Photography, Sculptures, Paintings, Videos and Music exhibits, Architecture, Light Art etc. It was well worth my time and money. – Netia1128, Denver, Colorado
This is a must-see for anyone in San Francisco. From Warhol to Lichenstein, it is the major Modern Art home on the West Coast. The only competition – Getty in Los Angeles. – Aphmann, Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom
Art and food go along very well, and that’s why SFMoMA’s three restaurants are always full.
Sightglass at SFMoMA
Sightglass cafe is available on the 1st floor and the 3rd floor and serves various pastries and fantastic coffee.
Timings at Floor 1: Weekdays from 8 am to 5 pm, and weekends from 10 am to 5 pm. They are closed on Wednesday.
Timings at Floor 3: Thursday to Tuesday 10 am to 4.30 pm. They are closed on Wednesday.
Have a fine-dining family-friendly experience in this quiet café and sculpture garden on the 5th floor.
The restaurant offers rich coffee, wines, and seasonal ingredients.
It is open from Friday to Tuesday from 10.30 am to 4.30 pm, and on Thursdays, it opens at 10 am and closes at 8 pm.
This café remains closed on Wednesday.
With dishes from around the world, In Situ on the 1st floor is fine-dining redefined.
You can book your place in advance or walk into this Michelin-starred restaurant.
Thursday to Monday (for lunch): 11 am to 3.30 pm
Thursday to Saturday (for dinner): 5 pm to 9 pm
Sunday: 5 pm to 8 pm.
In Situ is closed on Tuesday and Wednesday.
The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art can be a maze for any first-time visitor.
The exhibits are spread over seven stories, and there is a lot to see and do.
With the help of a floor plan, you won’t waste your time trying to find what you want to see.
A floor plan can also help you find the other tourist facilities such as washrooms, restaurants, shops, etc.
Map of Level 1
Map of Level 2
Map of Level 3
Map of Level 4
Map of Level 5
Map of Level 6
Map of Level 7
It is better to download the floor plan (pdf) for your visit.
The museum’s store is curated as carefully as the exhibits and has excellent books, toys, home décor, and many more.
Your every purchase supports the exhibits and education programs.
We recommend you stop by the Museum Store on Floor 1 and 2 before you leave.