The DeYoung is known for its lavish exhibitions which cause lines to double and triple back on themselves in front of the museum, and the concomitant price tag. In my experience these shows have been good value for the dollar, since they're usually huge and often contain art which I would normallly have to travel to a foreign country to see. Plus, you get two dollars off your ticket if you get there by MUNI. The recently-opened exhibition of artifacts from the Olmec civilization is stunning. The enigmatic grimace of the statues, the massive size of many of the pieces created by a culture that apparently had neither pack animals nor the wheel, and the intricately carved and deeply expressive smaller figures all make for a fascinating and affecting experience. For me as a professional in the humanities it was an added treat to see how many of the tags basically said 'we don't have a clue what this means.' Since archaeologists have not found more than rudimentary evidence of Olmec writing we can only guess at the symbolic significance of much that we see. The Olmec also apparently preferred clear lines, which make the Maya artifacts that were influenced by them seem positively cluttered. So much explanatory writing! Chill out, folks!
The Very Nice People and I took a lunch break before returning to the museum, and I decided to give Park Chow another chance despite a mediocre dinner experience with the parents a few years ago. Lunch is definitely a better choice for Park Chow's upscale diner fare. My fish tacos were solid and accompanied by small, crisp french fries. There was an excellent beet and shaved goat cheese salad, with the perfect accompaniment of grapefruit and a light, unobtrusive dressing. Another member of our party had a tofu noodle dish which he enjoyed. The close quarters and noise will not be to all tastes, nor are the prices fantastic, but you do get a good amount of well-conceived, simple American food.