A gift from a sugar magnate and his persuasive wife, Adolph and Alma Spreckels, the Legion of Honor is one of San Francisco’s most striking buildings. Its neoclassical grandeur is inspired from one of Paris’ loveliest buildings, the Palais de la Legion de l’Honneur, located on the Left Bank of the Seine. The original building was annexed by Napoleon himself in 1804, and bore the name of his new order that he had created as a reward for civil and military merit in the newly revolutionized French Republic. France granted permission for the Spreckels to build a replica in California, and the completed building showed its first exhibition in 1924.
While the Legion of Honor was retro-fitted in the 90’s to become more seismically secure (like much of the city’s older buildings), little has changed from its opening on Armistice Day of 1924. 90 years later, world-class exhibitions still draw crowds for cultural appreciation and education. This summer, works by the Impressionists grace the halls, as well as Mannerist master Parmigianino and beautiful artifacts found in the Levant, dating from the Copper Age. Admire the many strokes of Cezanne, Renoir, Monet, and others with an exhibition that focuses on intimate places and people of the artists’ lives. The eccentric and expressive styles of Parmigianino’s “Schiava Turca,” as well as beautiful copper artifacts from the Holy Land are sure to dazzle museum-goers of all ages. More information about ticketing and hours, plus additional exhibition information, can be found at https://legionofhonor.famsf.org.