Portals of the Past: The Photographs of Willard Worden

Aug 11, 2015

de Young \ July 25, 2015–February 14, 2016

SAN FRANCISCO—The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco are pleased to present Portals of the Past: The Photographs of Willard Worden, an exhibition of 73 photographs from the first two decades of the 20th century, including views of San Francisco’s coastline, Golden Gate Park and Chinatown.

A fascinating though largely forgotten figure in the Bay Area’s rich photographic history, Willard Worden (American, 1868–1946) turned his lens on San Francisco before, during and after the great earthquake of 1906.

“Worden made his living as a view photographer during one of the most dramatic periods of San Francisco’s development,” observed James A. Ganz, curator of the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “Soon after his arrival in 1901 he captured a dynamic city on the upswing, only to bear witness through his photographs to its tragic destruction in 1906. As the region began to recover and rebuild, his line of picturesque landscapes and seascapes appealed to the many displaced residents as they settled into new homes with bare walls.”

A recurring subject for the photographer was the surviving entryway to a Nob Hill mansion destroyed in the earthquake of 1906. Called the Portals of the Past, the ruin, which was relocated to Golden Gate Park in 1909, served as both a monument to the city’s recent tragedy and a symbol of its perseverance.

Worden was at the height of his career at the time of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), the 1915 world’s fair held in San Francisco. As one of the exposition’s official photographers, he captured its spectacular architectural and sculptural creations by day and night.

Art from the PPIE, including approximately 200 works by major American and European artists, is the focus of the de Young exhibition Jewel City: Art from San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition, opening October 17, 2015.

deyoungmuseum.org \ @deyoungmuseum

Visiting \ de Young
Golden Gate Park, 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco, CA 94118
Open 9:30 a.m.–5:15 p.m. Tuesdays–Sundays; open select holidays; closed most Mondays; open late Fridays 9:30 a.m.–8:45 p.m. (through November 27, 2015).

Entry to this exhibition is included with general admission to the museum. Information on purchasing tickets, groups of 15 or more, and membership.

The Fine Arts Museums are producing a scholarly catalogue to accompany the exhibition. The 104-page, softcover catalogue includes an essay by James A. Ganz and will illustrate all 73 photographs seen in the exhibition. It will be available late August 2015.

Exhibition Organization
This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

About the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, comprising the de Young in Golden Gate Park and the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, are the largest public arts institution in San Francisco.

The de Young originated from the 1894 California Midwinter International Exposition and was established as the Memorial Museum. Thirty years later, it was renamed in honor of Michael H. de Young, a longtime champion of the museum. The present copper-clad landmark building, designed by Herzog and de Meuron, opened in October 2005. It showcases the institution’s significant collections of American painting, sculpture, and decorative arts from the seventeenth to the twenty-first centuries; art from Africa, Oceania, and the Americas; costume and textile arts; and international contemporary art.

The Legion of Honor was inspired by the French pavilion, a replica of the Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, at San Francisco’s Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915. The museum opened in 1924 in the Beaux Arts–style building designed by George Applegarth on a bluff overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge. Its holdings span four thousand years and include European painting, sculpture, and decorative arts; ancient art from the Mediterranean basin; and the largest collection of works on paper in the American West.

Media Contacts
Erin Garcia \ egarcia@famsf.org \ 415.750.8904

Miriam Newcomer \ mnewcomer@famsf.org \ 415.750.3554