Submission Guidelines

In keeping with the long history of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (“Museums”) supporting local art communities, all San Francisco Bay Area county artists, whether self-taught or professionally trained, are invited to submit a newly created artwork (as defined below) for possible inclusion in The de Young Open (“Exhibition”), now a triennial, will open at the de Young museum on September 30, 2023. Exhibiting artists may sell their artwork following the Exhibition and retain the full proceeds from any sale.

The jurors look forward to filling the 12,000-square-foot Herbst Exhibition Galleries with more than 800 works of art by Bay Area artists for the Exhibition. The following guidelines (“Guidelines”) are designed to facilitate the safe and successful handling and installation of artworks and to beautifully present a robust offering of artworks from the Bay Area community. Interested artists should review the Guidelines carefully and complete an application form here [] between June 5 and June 18, 2023, to submit their artwork for review.

We anticipate receiving a large number of artworks for consideration. In order to fairly and thoughtfully make selections, the submission process will close when we reach 12,000 entries, so we encourage artists to submit their work as soon as possible during the submission timeframe. 

Qualifying artists

  • Artists who are 18 years of age or older and currently reside in one of the nine Bay Area counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma. 

Submission process

  • Artworks will be considered only through the Museums’ online application form, which will require the upload of digital images for review. The application form will be available here [] beginning on June 5, 2023, and open until June 18, 2023, or until we receive 12,000 entries, whichever comes first.
  • Artists must complete an online form in its entirety by supplying their full name, artwork title, date, media, dimensions (or running time for media/video), contact email address, and other information outlined in the form.
  • Artworks must be new works created between 2021 and 2023.
  • Each artist may submit digital imagery for one, and only one, artwork for possible inclusion in the Exhibition.
  • For two- and three-dimensional artworks, artists must submit a high-quality jpeg of each artwork in its entirety, in focus, and with adequate lighting. Images must be in 72 ppi resolution and between 1920px (minimum) and 4600px (maximum) on the longest side. Cellphone jpegs are acceptable if they meet the above image criteria. For time-based media/video artworks, artists must submit a URL (and password if needed) to their video and upload a still pulled from the video. Images will be used for the Exhibition website. 
  • As part of the submission process, artists must agree to all terms and conditions set forth by the Museums, including but not limited to a release of liability and an insurance waiver. General terms and conditions are described below, and further specific terms and conditions will be described in the release, waiver, and/or any other forms required by the Museums for submission.

Acceptable media and size, weight, and other restrictions

Two-dimensional wall artworks

  • Paintings, works on paper (including drawings, watercolors, pastels, prints, and photographs), and very low-relief (4 inches deep or less) paintings, sculptures, textile, fiber, or mixed-media artworks are acceptable media.
  • Two-dimensional artworks must arrive as no more than three separately mounted components totaling no more than 36 square feet (6 x 6 feet, for example) and weighing no more than 150 pounds total.
  • To comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, hanging artworks cannot project more than 4 inches from the wall.
  • Artworks that include materials that could attract pests will be subject to further review and may not be permitted (see “Prohibited Media” below for more details). 
  • All two-dimensional artwork, including fiber or textiles, must be wall hanging and should be framed, stretched, or mounted to a board. They must have D-rings, cleats, dowels, grommets, or Velcro attached to the back for hanging. D-rings should be placed on the back of the artwork — on the left and right edges approximately one-third down from the top. Works that do not meet these hanging requirements will not be accepted.
  • All materials included in artwork must be completely dry and stable when delivered.

Three-dimensional pedestal artworks

  • Three-dimensional artworks, including works made of stone, metal, ceramic, glass, wood, and fiber, are acceptable media.
  • Three-dimensional artworks can measure up to 27 cubic feet (3 x 3 x 3 feet, for example) and weigh up to 150 pounds.
  • Three-dimensional artworks must be seismically stable and able to stand freely without mounts or other interventions.
  • Artworks that include materials that could attract pests will be subject to further review and may not be permitted (see “Prohibited Media” below for more details).
  • The Museums will supply cases, pedestals, and/or platforms, if the Museums determine that they are necessary for the presentation of three-dimensional artworks. Artists may not provide their own cases, pedestals, platforms, and/or any other devices for presentation.
  • All materials included in artwork must be completely dry and stable when delivered.

Time-based media/video/digital artworks

  • Artists must provide a link to their artwork in the submission form. The link may be password-protected. The submission form will contain a separate field for the password. The video must be streamable from this link.
  • Artists may not include names, credits, or any other identifying information in their submission, and the artwork will be immediately rejected if it contains any of the above information. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco ask that artists create a separate, anonymized channel or account (such as “Artist123”) on their platform of choice (such as YouTube or Vimeo) to upload a version of their video artwork that excludes names, opening credits, end credits, descriptions, and any other identifying information. If the artist’s name is viewable on the platform that houses their submission — such as in the account name or handle — they risk disqualification.
  • If the video artwork is accepted into the Exhibition, artists will be asked to provide both a downloadable file for and a new link to a version of their artwork that includes names and credits. This version will be shown onsite and will be accessible on our digital web gallery.
  • To ensure that the Museums can present time-based media / video artworks, artists must submit these artworks in the form of .mp4 files, in H.264 format.
  • Time-based media / video artworks must be single-channel only.
  • Time-based media / video artworks can run a total length of up to 10 minutes maximum (including credits).
  • Accepted time-based media/video artworks will be presented in a continuous loop/rotation in the de Young’s Media Room on an 82-inch screen with a Yamaha sound bar and small subwoofer to provide any accompanying audio.
  • Non-video, digital artwork will be presented on a 55-inch screen.
  • NFTs will be accepted.
  • The Museums will supply the audio-visual equipment to run the media/video/digital artworks. Artists may not provide their own audio-visual equipment.

AI-generated artworks

  • Artwork generated by artificial intelligence (AI) will be considered, provided that it adheres to the guidelines for its relevant category (two-dimensional wall art, three-dimensional pedestal art, time-based media, or digital artwork) as outlined above.

Prohibited media (including but not limited to the following, which will not be accepted for review or presentation)

  • Wood or plant material that may harbor or attract pests, including but not limited to dried branches, dried bamboo, driftwood, large bark pieces, hay bales and logs.
  • Preserved insects, animals, and other organic material, including but not limited to feathers, fur, hair, wool, quills, skins, nests, cobwebs, and antlers.
  • Soil.
  • Wool yarn or wool fabrics. (Please do not adhere felt spacers or dots to the back of your artwork.)
  • Food items, including but not limited to fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, dried beans, and rice.
  • Liquids, including but not limited to water, in unsealed containers.
  • Materials that produce vapor, smoke, mists, and/or odors.
  • Glitter and/or confetti.
  • Balloons.
  • Flammable, toxic, volatile, and/or explosive materials.
  • Weapons.
  • Live animals and/or insects.
  • Electricity or electrical elements, including but not limited to neon and other lights, holograms, batteries, digital elements, and/or kinetic and/or other mechanical elements.
  • Reproductions of your art in another medium (e.g., an offset lithograph of your painting, or a giclée print of your watercolor) will not be considered.
  • The Museums further reserve the right to reject previously accepted artworks during on-site inspection by Museums staff, if the artworks contain materials that might pose a risk to the de Young, its permanent collection, its staff, and/or the public.

Review process

  • Artworks submitted will be reviewed for acceptance by a committee of curators and other art professionals. Artists will be notified in August if their artworks have been accepted or declined for inclusion in The de Young Open. All decisions by the review committee will be final.

Delivery of artworks

  • Each artist with artwork accepted for the Exhibition will be assigned a specific date and time to deliver their artwork in person to the de Young at 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. This timeframe will begin approximately one month before the Exhibition opening on September 30, 2023. An artist’s artwork will be accepted only during the scheduled window. Time-based video/media artworks must be delivered via an online portal that will be made available to those video/media artists whose work is accepted for the Exhibition.
  • All accepted artworks must be delivered to the de Young at the assigned location (to be shared with participants whose artworks have been selected), and all artworks will be recorded by the Museums’ exhibition registrars.
  • Artworks will be verified against the approved submission details and image. The Museums will accept only the exact work(s) accepted for inclusion in the Exhibition.
  • Each artwork must have the artwork’s title, the artist’s name, and the artist’s contact information (email and phone) on a label securely adhered to the back or bottom of the artwork. For time-based video/media artworks, this information must be embedded in the final files submitted. 
  • Any wrapping, including paper, bubble wrap, and/or other packing materials, must be removed by the artist immediately upon delivery and will not be stored by the Museums. Museum staff will not be available to assist with unpacking/unwrapping artworks.
  • Upon delivery of the artworks, artists will be required to provide a government-issued photo ID as proof of identity and residency in one of the nine Bay Area counties listed above. Acceptable forms of government-issued photo ID include a California driver’s license or a California Real ID. Artists who cannot produce proof of residency in one of the nine Bay Area counties will have their works returned to them.
  • Artworks may not be shipped or mailed to the de Young.


  • Accepted artworks will be installed in the de Young’s special-exhibition space, the Herbst Exhibition Galleries, on the lower level of the de Young — with the exception of time-based media, videos, or NFTs, which may be presented in other exhibition spaces on the lower level. Accepted artworks will be installed in a nineteenth-century “salon style,” nearly edge to edge, in a band approximately 15 feet high (on an 18-foot wall), in the order in which they are delivered. Due to safety, insurance, and liability concerns, artists will not be allowed in the galleries during installation.
  • Staff at the Museums shall place, light, and/or prepare all of the artworks, in the staff’s sole and professional discretion.
  • The artworks shall remain in the possession of the Museums from the time the artworks are delivered, throughout the run of the Exhibition, until the de-installation is completed. Each artist commits to lending their artwork to the Museums for the full extent of the Exhibition run, September 30, 2023 – January 7, 2024 and cannot withdraw artwork(s) during the period described. The Museums reserve the right, in their sole discretion, to shorten or extend the Exhibition run.


  • The Museums assume the right to use any images of the artworks provided by the artists or their representatives, and to photograph, videotape, and/or otherwise reproduce the artworks for documentation, publicity, publication, educational, and/or all other purposes, in print and digital forms, connected with the Exhibition.
  • The Museums assume the right to reproduce images of the works on the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco’s digital channels, including but not limited to the Museums’ website [] and the Museums’ social media accounts. These images will serve ongoing documentary, educational, and promotional functions for the Museums’ audiences.
  • The general public may take photos for personal, noncommercial use only.

Sales of artworks

Through the Exhibition webpage that will go live when the Exhibition opens to the public, potential buyers will be able to connect with artists to purchase artworks. This transaction will take place solely between artist and buyer; the Museums will take no part in the facilitation or profit of the sale.

If the artwork is sold while it is on view during the Exhibition, the artist agrees, upon signing the Conditions Governing Loan, that the artwork must remain at the de Young until the completion of the Exhibition. This includes any transfer of NFT ownership.

If the accepted artwork has been sold prior to the Exhibition opening, artists must deliver only the work that was accepted into the Exhibition, or forfeit their participation. No replacement artwork will be accepted.

The Museums’ issuance of these Guidelines does not constitute an agreement by the Museums that a work will be selected for Exhibition and/or that an artist is in any way otherwise associated with the Museums. The Museums expressly reserve the right at any time to:

  • Waive and/or correct any defect and/or informality in these Guidelines;
  • Reject any and/or all submissions;
  • Reissue these Guidelines; and/or
  • Prior to the submission deadline, modify these Guidelines.

Copyright / liability

  •  Artists who “appropriate” or use imagery or sound, including music, from an existing artwork or source are solely responsible for obtaining copyright and all other applicable reproduction permissions.
  • Failure to secure all necessary copyright permissions may result in the artwork’s immediate rejection and removal from the Exhibition.

Exhibition close / picking up artworks

  • Collecting your artwork at the end of the Exhibition will follow a similar process to the delivery. Details will be shared with accepted artists.