The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are committed to offering services that make its collections, exhibitions, and programs accessible to all visitors. Programs and visiting options for individuals with disabilities as well as other underserved populations in the community are crucial for creating equity in access to the arts.
General admission to the de Young museum and the Legion of Honor is complimentary for those who have disabilities, along with free admission for a guest, pending ticket availability. Due to ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, gallery capacity is limited. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request access tickets prior to your visit.
Access membership is a discounted membership level for people with disabilities. Access membership includes free admission for one member and a guest, invitations to Member Previews, access to Member Wednesdays, 10% off at the de Young and Legion of Honor Museum Stores, and a subscription to our monthly member e-news and Fine Arts magazine. Please contact email@example.com or call 415.750.3636 (Monday–Friday, 9 am–5 pm) to become a member.
All Access Programs are complimentary or provided at a low cost. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need additional information not provided below.
American Sign Language (ASL) Interpretation:
ASL interpretation is provided at no fee for all public programs, lectures, and tours. Please contact the Access Office at least two weeks in advance of your visit. To request ASL interpretation, contact the Access Office 415.750.7645 or e-mail email@example.com.
American Sign Language (ASL) Tactile Interpretation:
Upon request, with two weeks advance notice, a specialized ASL Tactile Interpreter can be solicited to interpret for an individual who is Deaf / Blind.
Assistive Listening Devices:
Assistive Listening Devices are available for visitors who are hearing as well as hard of hearing and wear a hearing aid with a t-coil switch to use with loop, to provide greater amplification for docent led tours or lectures. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information and / or instructions and / or the assistance of MVS or volunteer.
Computer Activated Realtime Transcription (CART):
Upon request, with two weeks advance notice, CART services can be solicited to provide real time captioning for lectures, films (if film does not have already have captions incorporated), and other FAMSF related events.
Captions – Open and Closed:
Films produced by FAMSF will have open captions as displayed in the galleries. Films not produced by FAMSF that run for less than three months, will have at a minimum, scripted text available in booklet form. Films not produced by FAMSF that run for more than three months will have captions. Film presented in the Koret Auditorium and Gunn Theater of either museum will have closed captions, available on an iPad or mobile device. Supportive devices for closed captions must be requested at least two weeks in advance.
Audio tours for most temporary, special exhibitions at both museums are available at exhibition entrances. Audio Tours of highlights from the permanent collection are available near the Information Desk and include a Visual Access Tour option that provides a highly detailed visual description of each object on the tour. Transcripts of the Highlights Audio Guide Tours from the permanent collection and of the special temporary exhibitions are available at the audio guide kiosks.
Braille / Tactile and Large Font Museum Guides, Map and other access:
Museums guides and maps are available in both Braille / Tactile and Large Font for both museums. Guides include a listing of Audio Guide Stops on the Highlights Tour. Please ask the admissions staff upon arrival. Visitors will need to submit a photo ID in order to check out one. Both museums provide large font and tactile maps for people who have low vision or are blind and can be requested upon registration. Photo ID must be provided in order to check out one to ensure that it is returned prior to leaving the museum. Braille is also available in the elevators.
Large Print Labels (LPLs):
LPL booklets using font 16 Arial are available for most exhibitions. They can be found in plexi-glass holders at the start of the exhibition. Please note that all booklets are the property of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and are to be returned to the plexi-glass holder.
Large print menus are available at the Café.
Service / Support Animals:
Services / Support Animals are welcome at both museums, as long as the animal is well behaved. Security Guards are allowed to intervene if the animal gets out of hand or is a threat to other visitors or art work. If Service / Support Animal is other than a dog, it is recommended that visitors call in advance to ensure an accommodation can be made.
Standing Closer to Art Policy:
For visitors who self identify themselves as having low vision, they may inform a Membership and Visitor Services (MVS) staff at registration, who will alert a Supervisor informing Security Guards, in real time via radio, to make an exception for visitors who need to stand closer to the artwork. A white cane that identifies the person as having low vision is helpful, but not required. Shoulder bags are to be held back so as not to swing towards art work.
Lighting in certain galleries may be dimmed in order to protect the art.
For Visitors with Limited English Proficiency (LEP):
The Highlights Audio Guide Tour of the permanent collection includes options to listen in English, Spanish, French, Japanese, German, and Chinese.
Visitors who have Limited English Proficiency (LEP) may request a docent tour in a specified language and an attempt will be made to locate a docent who speaks the requested language. At least two week's notice must be given.
Accessible / Blue Zone Parking:
For information on public transportation, please visit the SFMTA website.
Navigating the Museums:
Motorized scooters are welcome in both museums. Please exercise care when scooting around art on pedestals and in cases. Wheelchairs are available from coat check or the admissions counter on a first come, first served basis and cannot be reserved. Photo ID is required to borrow a wheelchair. Wide wheelchairs are also available. Lightweight, portable, and wide sturdy stools are available at Admissions and Coat Check. A Photo ID must be provided to ensure stools are returned prior to leaving the museum. Stools may not be reserved.
All doors are accessible. They are either propped open, lightweight and ADA compliant, feature push buttons, or a Security Officer is stationed to assist opening doors. At the de Young, push buttons are located at museum entry. At the Legion of Honor there are no push buttons. An intercom located at the north side entrance can be used to alert Security for assistance. Both museums are wheelchair accessible by ramp or level ground.
Accessible Bathrooms, Gender Neutral Bathrooms, and Nursing / Changing Rooms:
Both museums have accessible bathrooms, gender-neutral bathrooms, and nursing / changing rooms. At the de Young, the changing room is located at the emergency aid room. At the Legion of Honor, the changing room is located at basement level, accessible only by staff, therefore a security guard needs to be notified that you need access.
The Gunn Theater is located on the basement level of the museum, accessible by elevator with a staff keycard. When arriving at the museum through the main entrance or terrance entrance, ask a security officer or visitor experience staff member to escort you to the elevators, down to the basement level, and into the theater.
Access Days allow visitors an opportunity to visit special exhibitions on select Mondays when the Museums are closed to the public. The goal is to have an Access Day occur once during each special exhibit. Docent tours for visitors with low-vision, who are Deaf and communicate via American Sign Language (ASL) interpretation, and other accommodations are offered. Access Day patrons from the disability and underserved communities can also self guide and benefit from additional seating in the galleries, a less crowded experience, the availability of large print labels, the use of wheelchairs and sturdy stools, a fragrance free environment and additional accessible blue zone parking spaces.
Access membership is a discounted level of membership ($89/year) for people with disabilities.
- Free admission tickets for one member and a guest to the permanent collections and most special exhibitions at the de Young and the Legion of Honor
- Invitations to members-only events and viewing hours
- Priority ticketing for special exhibitions
- Discounts at the de Young and Legion of Honor Museum Stores
- Free subscription to the Fine Arts member magazine and e-news
- Free American Sign Language (ASL) Tours
- Discounts on audio tours, ticketed special events, films, and lectures
Proof of eligibility required; please provide documentation from a physician or a local or federal government agency. Examples of documentation include a physician letter, Medicaid or Medicare card, Social Security Disability (SSD) benefits letter, or disabled transit pass. No eligibility documentation is required for renewals. To join, email email@example.com, call 415.750.3636 (Monday–Friday, 9 am–5 pm), or visit the membership desk at the de Young or Legion of Honor.
American Sign Language (ASL) Tours
ASL Tours (formally DEAF Media Docents at FAMSF) have been offered for the Deaf community at the Museums since the 1980s. Deaf docents and Deaf guest docents lead tours through special exhibitions in American Sign Language after participating in an intensive three hour annual docent training and studying with FAMSF docents, who mentor through an exhibition learning tour.
Artful Discoveries is a program for individuals with early-stage dementia and their family members or care partners. The interactive in-gallery program provides an opportunity for participants and their care partners to join others in a discussion and multisensory exploration of art. The program is presented in partnership with the Northern California and Northern Nevada Alzheimer’s Association.
This is a program for people with low vision or who are blind by providing highly descriptive.
Private Docent Led Tours
Private Docent Led Access Tours provided patrons with disabilities the ability to visit the de Young at a time that is convenient for them. The program entails coordinating a tour conducted by an access docent, specifically trained in working with visitors with disabilities or from underserved populations.
Private Self Guided Access Tours
Tours are the same as the above.
This program was developed in 2017 for seniors unable to leave the home or use the computer, where seniors can call in and listen to highly descriptive tours while looking at hard copy images mailed to them prior to the remote tour.
Veteran’s Personal Response Tours
This program provides a specialized tour during which Veterans select a work of art that interests them, based on a theme presented by a docent, and discuss the emotions it produces with veterans in the tour group.
Access Advisory Board
The Access Advisors is comprised of fourteen members who have disabilities, who work in the disability field, or who have a family member with a disability. They work with FAMSF, most closely with the Access Manager, Karen Berniker, to help make the museums more accessible both to persons with disabilities and to people who do not consider themselves as having a disability, but have vision, mobility, hearing, or stamina issues among others. The goal of the AA is to assist the museums to be as usable and disability friendly to these visitors if they come independently, and also for the museums to provide specialized services to our visitors upon request. This group was formed in 1988, and it is in its 29th year of service at the museums. In 2017 subcommittees were created in an effort to leverage the AA expertise and maximize impact more quickly.
Access Advisory Subcommittees
The Access Advisors made a decision in 2017 to expand, but remain a relatively small, active group that facilitates program expansion. In order to become more efficient at specific tasks, the AA Board continued with the Deaf Community Subcommittee and formed four additional sub-committees; the Executive Branch Committee is tasked with identifying short and long term goals with target dates that provides a roadmap for program development; the Nominating and Orientation Subcommittee charged with recruiting and orienting new members, an Outreach Subcommittee tasked with expanding reach in the Disability and Underserved Communities and an Access Subcommittee in an effort to identify and address physical and programmatic access as it relates to specific disability groups.
Access Programs at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are generously supported by the de Youngsters, and Mr. Scott Nelson and Mrs. Nora Nelson.