Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts

The Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts (AFGA) is the department responsible for the Fine Arts Museums’ collection of works of art on paper: prints, drawings, and artists’ books. Selections from the collection are exhibited in rotating exhibitions in specially designated galleries at the de Young and the Legion of Honor, while the remainder of the collection is stored in the department’s state-of-the-art facilities at the Legion of Honor, along with the Museums’ collection of photography. Much of the collection is available for viewing at the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts Study Center.

The department is named for Moore and Hazel Achenbach, who gave the bulk of their collection to the city of San Francisco in 1948, and the remainder upon Moore Achenbach’s death in 1963. When they formed the collection, the Achenbachs intended that it would systematically illustrate the entire development of the graphic arts, from the 15th century to the present day. Through gifts, purchases, and the generous support of additional donors, curators of the AFGA have worked steadily over the years to realize this goal, filling in gaps and moving the collection forward into the 21st century. Many of the additional acquisitions form the basis for special collections within the department, such as the Anderson Collection of Graphic Arts, the Reva and David Logan Collection of Artist Illustrated Books, significant holdings of Japanese prints, theater- and dance-related materials, and an important group of Works Project Administration (WPA) prints and drawings allocated by the Federal Art Project. The department is also the repository of a number of archives, including the archive of the Bay Area’s Crown Point Press and the graphic works of the Los Angelesbased artist Ed Ruscha. Today, with more than 90,000 works of art, the AFGA is the largest repository of works of art on paper in the western United States.

Special Collections

Crown Point Press Archive

Acquired in 1991, the Crown Point Press Archive located at the Legion of Honor contains one impression (usually Artist’s Proof 6) from every print edition published by Crown Point Press as well as many proofs from editions printed, but not published, by the Press since its inception in 1962 to the... View More

Ed Ruscha Archive

For more than forty years, Ed Ruscha (b. Omaha, Nebraska, 1937) has been an influential figure in postwar American painting and one of contemporary art’s most significant graphic artists. In October 2000 the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco announced the acquisition of Ruscha’s complete graphic... View More

Japanese Prints

The Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts houses one of the largest and finest collections of Japanese prints in the western United States. Numbering over 3,000 works, it concentrates on the great period of ukiyo-e printmaking from the late eighteenth century until the end of the nineteenth century... View More

The Anderson Graphic Arts Collection

In 1996, the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco received a gift of more than 650 American prints from the collection of Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson and their daughter Mary Patricia Anderson Pence. Today, the Anderson Graphic Arts Collection spans over fifty years of print production, from... View More

The Reva and David Logan Collection of Illustrated Books

Over the course of forty years, Chicago collectors Reva and David Logan assembled one of the most important private collections of modern artist illustrated books, which they gave to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco beginning in 1998. They began their collection with the purchase of Joan Miró... View More

Theater and Dance

Over the years, the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts has assembled a rich and varied collection of art associated with the dance and the theater. Alma de Bretteville Spreckels who, with her husband, Adolph B. Spreckels, built the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, laid the foundation... View More

WPA Prints and Drawings

During the Great Depression, the federal government’s Works Progress Administration provided thousands of jobs for otherwise unemployed American artists. Projects funded by the WPA between 1933 and 1943 included the decoration of public buildings throughout the country and the establishment of... View More