Museum History Interactive Timeline

1906Historic earthquake destroys two-thirds of the building and museum collection

The catastrophic San Francisco earthquake of 1906 devastated the building. It leveled two wings, brought down the Egyptian, Roman, and Asian galleries, and shattered more than a thousand Cypriot pots. Three-quarters of the huge structure, much of which has been standing empty awaiting future acquisitions, was irreparably damaged.

After the quake and following the death of Jane Stanford, the museum's budget was sharply curtailed because it had not been separately endowed. The university faculty and administration showed little desire to salvage the beginnings of a new academically useful collection from the wreckage, so the remains of the building fell into disrepair and all pretense of curatorship gradually ceased.