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National Register of Historic Places Program

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources.


Property Name San Francisco Art Institute
Reference Number 15000950
State California
County San Francisco
Town San Francisco
Street Address 800 Chestnut Street
Multiple Property Submission Name N/a
Status Listed 1/5/2016
Areas of Significance Art
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(Events) for its role in the development of American art and for its contributions to art education in the United States. SFAI was the first art school established west of the Mississippi River and has played a significant role in fostering and promoting American artists particularly artists identified with California and the American West, a region which historically lacked financial, curatorial, and intellectual support networks for fine artists. SFAI is locally significant for its role in developing a California School of Abstract Expressionism following World War II, as well as its association with the development of Bay Area Figurative art. Additionally, SFAI is locally significant as the first institution of its kind to develop a fine art photography department, established under the direction of Ansel Adams and Minor White. SFAI is also notable for its contributions to mural art, avant-garde film, Funk art and Conceptual art.The property is significant at the local level with a period of significance of 1927-1980, meeting the requirements of Criteria Consideration G. While other art schools in the United States are associated with prominent artists and art movements, SFAI is exceptionally important for its role in educating and employing artists who contributed significantly to the arts of California, the American West, and the United States as a whole. A list of the students and faculty associated with SFAI between 1927 and 1980 is filled with luminaries of 20th century painting, sculpture, photography and cinema. SFAI and its faculty also played key roles in the establishment of major art institutions in San Francisco, including the Palace of Fine Arts, the California Palace of the Legion of Honor (Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco), and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

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Properties are listed in the National Register of Historic Places under four criteria: A, B, C, and D. For information on what these criterion are and how they are applied, please see our Bulletin on How to Apply the National Register Criteria