San Francisco’s de Young Museum has been part of the city since 1895, connecting visitors with art from around the world. Particularly since its redesign in October of 2005, it’s been a welcoming way to experience regional art, in particular art that originated in the Americas, Africa, and Oceania. Several of its upcoming exhibits, including Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire (opening in September), Beyond the Surface: Worldwide Embroidery Traditions (opening in December), and Revelations: Art from the African American South (currently running through April) provide visitors with a look into other cultures and their art.
One of the biggest sources of the de Young’s multicultural offerings is the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection, made up of donations from Silicon Valley businessman Thom Weisel. While he’s mostly known for his business dealings over the years, Weisel is also a longtime collector and advocate of Native American art. The Weisel Family Collection includes 200 objects, from 11th-century Mimbres ceramics to masterworks of Navajo weaving. They originate from a variety of cultures and include the first Plains ledger drawings to become part of the museum’s collection.
In addition to this more permanent resource, the de Young will be showing several exhibits that focus on regional art from different cultures.
From September to February, the de Young will host Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire, an exhibit focusing on artwork from the ancient Mexican city. Teotihuacan is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as well as the most-visited archaeological dig in Mexico. The exhibit will feature never-before-seen discoveries and loans from both Mexican and US cultural organizations. Ritual objects, mural paintings, ceramics, and stone sculptures will give visitosr an inkling of what the city might have been like during its heyday.
Then in December, Beyond the Surface: Worldwide Embroidery Traditions will open, offering a closer look at embroidery from around the world. The exhibit will offer both a look at the intricate stitches and the connections between the work and the cultures that inspired it.
And if visitors don’t want to wait for insight into other cultures, they can visit the de Young now through April and get to know a subculture closer to home. In Revelations: Art from the African American South, major acquisitions from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation in Atlanta will be showcased. These include contemporary art by African American artists from the Southern US, including paintings, drawings, and quilts. Many of these works were never allowed to see the light of day until the civil rights movement; instead they were hidden away in personal collections and later released only to commercial galleries. Together, they will provide insight into racism, African American music, and the use of folk art traditions in modern art forms.
For more than 100 years, the de Young has offered visitors a chance to see and connect with art they might otherwise not have the chance to experience. In these latest exhibits, the museum goes a step further and encourages visitors to broaden their horizons and take a look at art originating in cultures that may or may not be their own.