The Palace of Fine Arts in the Marina District of San Francisco is a building originally constructed for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition.
It was designed by Bernard Maybeck, who took his inspiration from Roman and Greek architecture. The sculptured frieze and allegorical figures representing Contemplation, Wonderment and Meditation were created by Ulric Ellerhusen. It was one of only three buildings from the exposition not to be demolished (the others being the Japanese Tea House (not to be confused with the Japanese Tea House that remains in Golden Gate Park), which dates from an 1894 fair, the other is what is now known as the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium). In the 1960s it was entirely refurbished to ensure its longevity. The exhibition hall, which originally housed Impressionist paintings during the exposition, is now home to the Exploratorium, a state of the art interactive science museum.
The Palace of Fine Arts has been a favorite wedding location for couples throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. A renovation restoring the interior of the dome, the walkways around the Palace and a seismic retrofit was completed in early 2009. The lagoon was intended to echo those found in classical settings in Europe, where the expanse of water provides a mirror surface to reflect the grand buildings and an undisturbed vista to appreciate them from a distance. Australian eucalyptus trees fringe the eastern shores. Many forms of wildlife have made their home there including swans, ducks geese, turtles, frogs and raccoons.