The Palace of the Legion of Honor: A Welcome Escape (Write Every Day, 15)

Temps around here climbed over 100 degrees yesterday, so what was a family to do?  We escaped to San Francisco, where it’s always cooler in the summertime. In fact, it was SF Perfect.  We made our way over to the Palace of the Legion of Honor.  I’ve lived in the Bay Area for 30 years, but this was my first visit to this beautiful museum. It’s embarrassing to think it took me this long.

I’ve been terribly envious of all my friends who are traveling through Europe this summer and I’ve oogled and googled the pictures of their adventures.  Walking into the Palace of the Legion of Honor is like walking into a museum in France — or Greece — or Italy. There is an enormous courtyard, surrounded by marble columns, in which Rodin’s “Thinker” sits contemplating life. Around him was an exhibit of fresh clay sculptures, baking in the sun. They are what I would dream of making if given tons of raw clay to play with and more than just a bit of artistic talent.

Once inside, each gallery has its own appeal, its own focus.  The use of color and the mix of the modern with the classic is a study in contrasts and contradictions. Here are a few shots from inside the museum:

On occasion, in the middle of the floor, there would be an exhibit with a “Do Not Touch” sign nearby, but no title or name of the artist, let alone a description or any details at all. The raw clay pouring out from the bed (above) is one such exhibit, but here is another:


The scale was what was so surprising:


My favorite exhibit, though, was the Melting Man — I simply couldn’t get enough of him. Notice that his shoulder is aglow. Imagine him on your front lawn for Halloween.

And what would a trip to a museum be without a little silliness?


What I loved so much about the Palace is that the exhibits inside are matched by the beauty and exhibits outside.  The museum sits atop a hill, removed from the hustle and crowds of the City.  Just outside the courtyard, there is a Holocaust Remembrance that I first saw over 20 years ago and still makes my heart stop . . .


and there are views that take my breath away.

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Just as we were leaving, we caught a glimpse of a Mexican Quinceanera.  Wisps of red, eggshell white, and gold stood out among the alabaster columns. I envied the photographer who was given the task of capturing these girls on this glorious day — and was able to grab a tiny shot of my own.


We meandered down the hill and then drove over to North Beach, where the heat was turned up for a street fair.  We escaped the crowds by ducking into The Stinkin’ Rose and ate dinner doused in garlic.  By the time we headed home, temps had finally dipped to a mere sweltering 99.

Unfortunately, we visited the museum a week too early for the Degas exhibit, but summer is a long stretch. I see another trip to the City . . . soon.


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