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1871 San Francisco Art Institute Sesquicentennial


From the SFAI Library and Archives: 150 years ago this week!


SFAI turned 150 on Sunday, but what exactly does that mean? These are the minutes of the San Francisco Art Association (SFAI before it was SFAI), which had its very first meeting on March 21, 1871. The gathering took place in the living room of a local painter named Juan Wandesforde and was attended by a group of local artists and “literary men” interested in promoting art in the city and on the West Coast. When asked to explain what they were doing there, Wadesforde “explained briefly that it was for the establishment of an artistic society the precise constitution of which would be determined by the general sense of the meeting.”

In other words, they weren’t really sure what they were doing! But over the course of the following months and years, they found themselves a permanent location, created a library, started putting on art exhibitions, and in 1874 founded a school that was the earliest incarnation of what is now SFAI.


With permission, SFAA is re-posting the emails Jeff Gunderson Librarian/Archivist Anne Bremer Memorial Library has been sending out since March 2020. Please enjoy this magnificent archive.