Palace of Fine Arts Theatre – What You Need To Know BEFORE You Visit

(Last Updated On: May 10, 2023)

The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California is a majestic structure that serves as a reminder of the citys past.

Originally built for the 1915 PanamaPacific International Exposition, it is the only structure from the exposition that still stands in its original location.

The 162foothigh (49meter) open rotunda is situated on the edge of a lagoon and is joined by a large, curved exhibition center.

The Palace of Fine Arts was designed to evoke a decaying ruin of ancient Rome, and was one of the most popular attractions of the 1915 exposition.

Residents and visitors alike have come to appreciate the Palace of Fine Arts for its beauty and historical significance, and it has become one of San Francisco’s most recognizable landmarks.

In recent years, the Palace of Fine Arts has undergone a renovation of the lagoons and walkways as well as a seismic retrofit to ensure its longterm safety. It is now a popular venue for events like weddings and trade fairs.

Palace of Fine Arts History

The Palace of Fine Arts is a historic landmark in San Francisco, California. It was one of ten palaces at the heart of the Panama-Pacific Exhibition, a world’s fair that was held in San Francisco in 1915. The Palace of Fine Arts was designed by Bernard Maybeck, who intended it to be a quiet zone with Roman and Ancient Greek inspired architecture.

Thanks to the Palace Preservation League, founded by Phoebe Apperson Hearst, the Palace was saved from demolition after the exhibition. During the Great Depression, the Palace housed the W.P.A. artists and was used for various purposes during World War II and afterwards.

In 1964, the original Palace was demolished and replaced with one made of lightweight, pouredinplace concrete and steel Ibeams. In 1969, the former Exhibit Hall became home to the Exploratorium and in 1970, the Palace of Fine Arts Theater was created.

In 1992 and 1996, Wheel of Fortune taped shows at the Palace. In April 2020, plans were announced to convert the Palace of Fine Arts into a temporary shelter, but following protests, this decision was reversed. Today, the Palace of Fine Arts is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

Australian eucalyptus trees fringe the eastern shore of the lagoon, and various forms of wildlife have made their home there. The Palace of Fine Arts remains a testament to the beauty and grandeur of the Panama-Pacific Exhibition and a reminder of San Francisco’s rich history.

Palace of Fine Arts Key Information

Located in the Marina District of San Francisco, California

Constructed for the 1915 PanamaPacific International Exposition

162foothigh (49meter) open rotunda, enclosed by a lagoon on one side

Adjoins a large, curved exhibition center on the other side

Used as a venue for events such as weddings or trade fairs

Recently underwent a renovation of the lagoons and walkways and a seismic retrofit

Easy to get to by public transportation

Ample parking nearby


  • Tamara M

    Hey there! My name is Tamara, welcome to my little world! I’m a 20-something-year-old from Toronto, Canada (though I’m rarely there) and I’m super passionate about exploring the world, photography, and cooking delicious plant-based recipes. I created this blog to share my favorite places, adventures, restaurants, accommodations, and travel tips with all of you and keep a bit of a travel diary for myself.

Leave a Comment