The fall visual arts season at Bay Area museums and galleries couldn't offer a more extreme range of attractions.

They stretch from a million years ago in Arabia to the 1980s in New York subways. The artifacts include American folk art from the time of the Revolution and offbeat ceramics spawned in California's Central Valley in the 1960s.

At Stanford, a brand-new gallery will open with a stunning personal collection of modern American art. In Berkeley, an "old" museum -- it dates from 1970 -- will close while its replacement is completed.

That new gallery is the Anderson Collection at Stanford University, built for the extensive art collection of a Bay Area couple, Harry and Mary Margaret Anderson. It was a hit when shown at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art years ago, and now it will have its own home on campus next to the Cantor Arts Center.

OAKLAND MUSEUM OF CALILFORNIADiego Rivera’s famed 1935 painting "Flower Carrier," on loan from SFMOMA, will be displayed in an Oakland
OAKLAND MUSEUM OF CALILFORNIA Diego Rivera's famed 1935 painting "Flower Carrier," on loan from SFMOMA, will be displayed in an Oakland Museum of California exhibit titled " Fertile Ground," opening Sept. 20. ( omca )

Even the established museums will offer surprises.

The Asian Art Museum will turn its gaze westward to explore "Roads of Arabia." The Berkeley Art Museum, known for abstract and experimental works, draws on its own, lesser-known collection of American folk art. The Oakland Museum of California recruits even more California art from a San Francisco museum.

More exhibits explore other corners of the art world. There are major shows of photography by Robert Frank at the Cantor Arts Center at Stanford (http://museum.stanford.edu) and by Arnold Newman at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco (www.thecjm.org).


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Fans of TV's "Downton Abbey" might plan an excursion to "Houghton Hall: Portrait of an English Country House," which re-creates interiors at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco (http://legionofhonor.famsf.org). At the other extreme, "Pueblo to Pueblo" gathers works from Southwestern pueblo communities (including pots by the venerated Maria Martinez) at the Saint Mary's College Museum of Art (www.stmarys-ca.edu/museum).

Here are some of the most intriguing fall offerings, in the order they open:

  • "Fertile Ground": The Oakland Museum joins forces with the closed-for-expansion San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to span more than a half-century of creativity in this exhibit. It's subtitled "Art and Community in California." It focuses on four areas: the socially relevant murals and public art of the 1930s; the following decade at what is now the San Francisco Art Institute; the wildly innovative ceramics and paintings at UC Davis in the 1950s and '60s; and San Francisco's streetwise Mission district in the 1990s. Look for works by Diego Rivera, Dorothea Lange, Richard Diebenkorn and Robert Arneson. Details: Sept. 20-April 12; $6-$15; 510-318-8400, www.museumca.org.

  • The Anderson Collection: A new museumlike gallery for one of the great Bay Area collections of modern and contemporary art opens Sept. 21 on the Stanford University campus, just steps away from the Cantor Arts Center. Jackson Pollock, Robert Motherwell, Deborah Butterfield and Wayne Thiebaud are some of the 86 artists represented; 121 works will be on display. Harry W. and Mary Margaret Anderson, and their daughter Mary Patricia Anderson Pence assembled the collection. Richard Olcott of Ennead Architects designed the 30,000-square-foot building, which suggests, from a distance, that it's floating among the oaks. Details: Free, but with timed tickets for the first two months; 314 Lomita Drive, Palo Alto; http://anderson.stanford.edu.

  • "Roads of Arabia": This is the first exhibit at San Francisco's Asian Art Museum to cover the Arabian Peninsula, with recently discovered archaeological material never before seen in the United States. Alabaster bowls, fragile glassware, gold masks and earrings, and Hellenistic bronze statues are some of the treasures that spotlight the cultural crossroads. Among the contrasting highlights are stone tools said to be 1 million years old and a set of gilded doors that once graced the entrance to one of Islam's holiest sanctuaries. The show is from the Albert M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Details: Oct. 24-Jan. 18; $10-$15; 415-581-3500, www.asianart.org.

  • "American Wonder": Major exhibits of American folk art are rare at Bay Area museums, and the edgy Berkeley Art Museum might be the last placed you'd expect to find one. But the museum actually holds one of California's best collections of folk art, including portraits, landscapes, weather vanes and decorative sculpture. The show will include 50 objects from the time of the American Revolution to the onset of the Civil War. It's the last big exhibit at the seismically challenged Berkeley Art Museum before it closes, reopening on Oxford Street early in 2016. Details: Oct. 1-Dec, 21. $7-$10, 510-642-0808, http://bampfa.berkeley.edu.

  • "Keith Haring: The Political Line": The onetime graffiti artist died of AIDS in 1990 at the age of 31, but his distinctive, energetic, cartoonlike work has gained an enormous audience since then. He continues to be discovered by young admirers, who have packed galleries from Brooklyn to Paris, where the precursor of this show originated. More than 130 works, from New York subway drawings to large-scale paintings, will explore what one curator calls Haring's fight "for the individual and against dictatorship, racism and capitalism." Oh, and a lot of it is fun, too. Nov. 8-Feb. 16, de Young Museum, San Francisco. $15-$29, 415-750-3600, www.deyoungmuseum.org.