San Francisco, CA – Mayor London N. Breed and Treasurer José Cisneros today announced that the SF Museums For All program was used more than 130,000 times by low-income San Franciscans for free admissions to 22 museums and cultural institutions. A new case study and impact report released today by The Financial Justice Project in the Office of the Treasurer & Tax Collector describes how the program increased the economic and racial diversity of museum visitors.
“We made the right decision in 2021, when we decided to make this program permanent and year-round,” said Mayor Breed. “All San Franciscans, regardless of their income, deserve the opportunity to experience the joy, inspiration, and community that our incredible arts and cultural institutions have to offer. I want to thank all of our museums and cultural institutions for partnering with us on this important program.”
SF Museums for All allows San Franciscans who receive public benefits administered by the San Francisco Human Services Agency, such as Medi-Cal and CalFresh, to receive up to four free tickets to any participating museum or cultural institution anytime they visit and present their benefits card and proof of San Francisco residency. Nearly one in three San Franciscans receive one of these public benefits.
Admission fees at many institutions can range from $20 to $165 for a family of four to visit, which can create barriers for people to access the cultural and educational benefits that these institutions offer. Families with low incomes often do not go to museums because of prohibitively expensive ticket prices.
The San Francisco Museums for All program was created and administered in collaboration with the San Francisco Human Services Agency (SFHSA) and The Financial Justice Project in the Treasurer’s Office. SFHSA supports individuals and families with benefits including food, health care, financial, employment, and protective services. The Financial Justice Project works to ensure that lower-income residents receive discounts on fines and fees that place a disproportionate burden on low-income families.
“Museums are for all of us,” said Treasurer José Cisneros. “San Francisco has world-class museums and cultural institutions, but too many San Franciscans cannot afford the admissions prices. This program proves that when we remove the cost barrier, more San Franciscans will participate in the cultural life our city.”
The admissions numbers detailed in the new report demonstrate that there is high demand from people of all socioeconomic backgrounds to participate in San Francisco’s cultural life and institutions. In response to a survey, participating museums reported that their involvement in the program improved the racial and economic diversity of their visitors.
Additionally, half of the museums surveyed said that they made programming improvements at their institutions because of their participation in SF Museums for All. For example, museums reported improving language access, translating messaging and visitor maps, and creating programmatic offerings to engage more diverse audiences.
“We are proud of our museum and government partners for their continued commitment to equity and inclusion,” said Trent Rhorer, Executive Director of the San Francisco Human Services Agency. “Everyone should be able to experience San Francisco’s rich history, art, cultural, and science institutions. SFHSA continues to work towards expanding Museums for All so that all residents can enjoy the full range of our City’s world-class museums.”
The museums and cultural institutions that participate in SF Museums For All include:
• Asian Art Museum
• California Academy of Sciences*
• Cable Car Museum
• Cartoon Art Museum
• Children's Creativity Museum
• Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco
• Chinese Historical Society of America
• Conservatory of Flowers
• The Contemporary Jewish Museum
• de Young Museum
• GLBT Historical Society Museum
• Legion of Honor Museum
• Museum of Craft and Design
• Museum of the African Diaspora
• Museum of the Eye
• Randall Museum
• San Francisco Botanical Garden
• San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)
• San Francisco Recreation and Park Departments’ Japanese Tea Garden
• San Francisco Railway Museum
• Yerba Buena Center for the Arts
*At the California Academy of Sciences, SF Museums for All tickets are $3 each.
SF Museums for All was piloted during the summer of 2019. In June 2021, Mayor London Breed and Treasurer Jose Cisneros announced that the program would become year-round and permanent. This program expands on the national Museums for All program by allowing people who receive Medi-Cal to also receive free admission. In addition, city leaders spearheaded an effort to encourage all museums and cultural institutions to participate and conducted a citywide outreach and awareness campaign.
"Providing museum access to the entire community is our guiding priority," said Thomas P. Campbell, Director and CEO of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, which include the de Young and the Legion of Honor. "The SF Museums For All program is key in removing barriers and opening museum doors, enabling the art on view in our collection galleries to enrich the lives of many San Francisco community members. By providing free admission for visitors of multiple generations, this program will have an impact for generations to come.”
“We highlight the program as a resource to families to enjoy while on summer break and also year-round,” said Brittany Ford, Executive Director of BMAGIC and Mo’Magic, programs of the San Francisco Public Defender's Office, that use the SF Museums For All program. “We applaud SF Museums for All for playing an important role in ensuring equitable access to museums and cultural institutions throughout San Francisco.”
The arts are an essential part of San Francisco’s vibrancy and will continue to play an important role in the City’s economic recovery. The City and County of San Francisco supports artists, and arts and cultural organizations with a variety of funding and programs. Mayor Breed’s proposed City budget for the next two years continues investments to ensure that arts and cultural programs are able to operate, grow, and thrive in San Francisco.
More information on SF Museums For All can be found at https://www.sfhsa.org/san-francisco-museums-all, or by calling 311.