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Best Place for Free Art 

San Francisco Art Institute

In the last year alone, the San Francisco Art Institute's Walter and McBean Galleries have taken quite a beating. They've had a ton of concrete poured down the steps, left to harden, and they've supported a multi-ton pool dedicated to underwater photography. On top of that, they've played host to octogenarian erotica, deconstructed Mexican cultural patrimony, and more. While the recently reopened SFMOMA is in its own league, a visit to SFAI might be more bewitching with its trips down the approachable, superbly curated avant-garde rabbit hole. Sheltering its artists from the dictates of commerce, SFAI invests in its residency program to yield consistently unique, wonderful shows. While it's a cliché to say that "the building itself is art" — 'cause we're not talking about the Uffizi here — the Brutalist surroundings and killer, edge-of-Russian-Hill views ain't too shabby, either. And it's all free!

(Sorry, no information is currently available for other years in this same award category.)


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