About the Forum

The American Design and Arts Forum (ADAF) is a support group of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. The Forum dedicates itself to the study, understanding, enjoyment and preservation of American fine and decorative arts from their earliest beginnings to the present.

American decorative arts and design are the surviving objects of American make or use, such as furniture, lighting devices, ceramics, silver, textiles, utensils and other household decorations. Decorative arts are distinguished from fine art—usually paintings, sculpture and architecture—in two ways: first, the objects were usually made to serve a purpose superseding the aesthetic merit they may possess; and second, their maker, whether a school girl, silversmith, itinerant artist or cabinetmaker, generally did not consider themselves an "artist" in the way we define that word today. The decorative arts serve to document an historical period and way of life; they allow us today to understand better our diverse but collective past.

Since its founding in 1983, the Forum has earned a national reputation for excellent programs. Lectures given by leading scholars in the field of American decorative arts are usually presented at the Palace of the Legion of Honor in Lincoln Park, San Francisco, at 7:30 pm on the second Monday or Tuesday of the month or as double features during regular museum hours on weekends. The group also offers social events, visits to private collections, and travel opportunities.