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Best Museums In Bay Area

San Francisco Railway Museum

#MuseumFromHome: Virtually tour a Tampa Bay area museum while you’re staying home

If youve fallen in love with the vintage cable cars still riding the streets of San Francisco, this small museum is a great stop to learn more about San Franciscos rail transit history.

Although compact, theres plenty to see here, including a replica of a 1911 motormans platform, where youre more than welcome to play with the controls.

There are also audiovisual presentations, historical photographs and artifacts, and plaques full of interesting tidbits of information. Temporary exhibits usually focus on things of local importance, such as the 1906 earthquake or the history of transportation in San Francisco.

Entrance to the museum is free and visitors can also pick up unique memorabilia and San Francisco-themed souvenirs at the museums gift shop.

California Route 66 Museum

Location: 16825 D Street, VictorvilleTicket price: Free

As the name implies, this quirky attraction is located along the historic U.S. Route 66 in Old Town Victorville, roughly two hours northeast of Los Angeles. The 4,500-square-foot space houses a mind-boggling, eclectic array of memorabilia and artifacts that pay homage to The Mother Road, one of the first highways in the nation. Put on a wig and snap a selfie in the colorful Volkswagen Love Bus, get behind the wheel of a 1917 Model T Ford, and take a step back in time by sliding into the booth of a 1950s-era diner. Make sure to visit the California Route 66 Museum gift shop on your way out so you can take a keepsake home with you.

Nethercutt Museum And Collection

Location: 15151 Bledsoe Street, SylmarTicket price: Free

A little-known gem situated in the town of Sylmar, about 25 miles north of Los Angeles, the Nethercutt Museum and Collection is a treasure trove of rare collectibles spread across two buildings, showcasing a wide range of mechanical musical instruments, antique furniture, opulent watches and clocks, andbest of allover 250 American and European automobiles dating from 1898 to 1997.

Explore the lavish museum to view various Pebble Beach Concours dElegance winners and cars once owned by celebrities and royalty. Then, walk over to the collection in the neighboring building to admire even more meticulously preserved and maintained autos as well as memorabilia and antiques. Before you leave, pop your head into the Nethercutt Automotive Research Library and Archives, one of the worlds top car research institutions, and take a pic in front of the restored 1937 steam locomotive and 1912 Pullman railcar just outside the building.

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Get A Dose Of Culturein Person

Museums in San Francisco are slowly starting to open up after being closed for most of the past year, which makes visiting one probably the most exciting thing youll do all year . There are lots of protocols in place to keep everyone safe, including the obvious ones like wearing a mask, social distancing, and staying home if youre not feeling well. A lot of museums are also requiring timed tickets that must be bought in advance in order to ensure that they dont exceed 50% capacity. That may sound like a bummer, but its actually an amazing chance to experience some of your favorite museums without the crowds.

A few of our favorites, like the Legion of Honor, Exploratorium, Museum of African Diaspora, and the Musée Mécanique arent open yet, but for the ones that are, weve rounded up all of the info you need, including current exhibits and protocols on admission. Let the culture commence!

California Academy Of Sciences

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Location: 55 Music Concourse Drive, San Francisco

The California Academy of Sciences is an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, and natural history museum in one, in the heart of Golden Gate Park. Not only is this one of the best museums in San Francisco, but its also one of the largest natural history museums in the worldit houses over 46 million specimens.

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The Contemporary Jewish Museum

CJM is a unique museum that holds no permanent collections. Instead, their focus is on exhibitions that educate visitors on the Jewish experience from a 21st-century perspective.

In addition to art and film projects, the museum also hosts programs on literature, debate, and audio projects.

Through collaborations with other institutions such as the University of California, Berkeley, CJM has also been able to showcase unique items, such as 19th-century textiles from the San Francisco Jewish community.

Programs and events at the museum encompass a wide range of topics. Past events have included a look at the SF Golden State Warriors basketball team and a talk about Jim Henson and the art of puppetry.

San Francisco Fire Department Museum

San Francisco has a long and sad history connected to fires. In 1906, a massive earthquake hit the city but it was the fires that came right after that almost completely destroyed it.

The San Francisco Fire Department Museum and Safety Learning Center is home to a great collection that chronicles the history of firefighting in San Francisco. But its also a place where visitors can learn about fire safety and what happens when safety measures fail.

The collection includes antique firefighting equipment, an early fire truck, and horse-pulled fire engines.

You can also see a large exhibit focusing on the 1906 earthquake, including photos of what the city looked like after and examples of melted items. This includes a partially melted giant bell once used to warn residents about fires.

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De Young Fine Arts Museum

This is one of two spectacular fine arts museums of San Francisco. The first is the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. It features fine arts from the Americas, Africa and Asia.

Works here range from pre-Columbian America up to the present. They also feature several traveling art exhibits including past shows such as Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire Maori Portraits: Gottfried Lindauer’s New Zealand and Beyond the Surface: Worldwide Embroidery Traditions.

The de Young Museum also features an observatory tower that is free to visit. Through its windows, you can see from the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate Bridge to the Pacific Ocean. You will find this museum in Golden Gate Park.

Bank Of America Free Days

The Dalí Museum is one of the best art museums in Florida | Taste and See Tampa Bay

Called Museums on Us, holders of Bank of America credit cards and debit cards get free admission to specific Bay Area museums for one weekend each month typically the first full weekend of the month. Museums recognizing this cardholder perk include Oakland Museum of California, de Young Museum , Contemporary Jewish Museum , San Jose Museum of Art , and The Tech Interactive . Find more museums around the country with this perk >

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International Art Museum Of America

No other museum in San Francisco has the kind of unusual background as the International Art Museum of America . The museum was originally founded by Chinese-American artist Yi Youngao, who calls himself H. H. Dorje Chang Buddha III and claims to be Buddha reincarnated.

When the museum originally opened in 2011, it only featured works by Yi Youngao himself. The collection has since grown to include a large number of works of Chinese ink paintings and calligraphy, as well as contemporary Chinese art.

The museums new Western Collection is much more eclectic, featuring works by both American and European painters as far back as the 17th century.

The museum has an unusual feature called The Treasure Room, which can only be accessed via private viewings available every three months. The room holds sculptures created by Youngao.

Chinese Historical Society Of America

Based in San Franciscos Chinatown, the Chinese Historical Society of America elevates the prosperous Chinese heritage and recognizes its impact on the country. The organization aims to voice the flourishing Chinese community in the area and educating the public about Chinese values. They host a number of exhibits portraying the struggles of Chinese immigrants in the country, the history of womens equality, the influence of Chinese culture and architecture, etc. The museum store has a wide collection of novels, publications and books on art, history and ethnicity. It also offers apparel and artwork from local artists to encourage the diversity of the country.

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List Of Museums In The San Francisco Bay Area

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Museums in Santa Clara County, California.

This list of museums in the San Francisco Bay Area is a list of museums, defined for this context as institutions that collect and care for objects of cultural, artistic, scientific, or historical interest and make their collections or related exhibits available for public viewing. Also included are non-profit and university art galleries. Museums that exist only in cyberspace are not included.

Legion Of Honor Museum

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Set in a beautiful neo-classical building, the Legion of Honor museum is located in Lincoln Park and offers breathtaking views over the Golden Gate Bridge. Covering over 4,000 years of art history, its fine collection of European paintings, decorative art and sculptures is simply marvelous, and visitors will adore exploring its lovely galleries.

With masterpieces by such renowned artists as Rodin, Rembrandt, Monet, and Cezanne featured amongst its many other works, the Legion of Honor is definitely worth checking out if youre in San Francisco.

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San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park

This museum and research center dedicated to Pacific Coast maritime history has a massive collection that includes over 100 historical and modern vessels.

Notable examples include an 1890 side-wheel paddle steamboat and an 1895 three-masted schooner, as well as ferryboats and sailing ships. All can be seen at Hyde Street Pier across from the museums Visitor Center.

The museums permanent collection also includes many hours of archival film and video, over 500,000 photographs, historical maps and charts, audio recordings, and thousands of books and publications chronicling maritime history in the Bay Area.

Exhibits also include a shipwrecked boat and visitors can stop by the museums theater to catch short films and documentaries.

How To Get In Free To Dozens Of Bay Area Museums Science Centers + Gardens

Many of the Bay Areas very best museums are free at least one day each month. These recurring free museum days are often crowded, but if you arrive early enough, youll stand a great chance of enjoying world-class museums for $0 plus parking and snacks .

Note that holidays can change regularly scheduled free days and open hours, so please check with the museums first before attending.

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Museum Of African Diaspora

685 Mission St.MoAD showcases the history, art and the cultural richness that resulted from the dispersal of Africans throughout the Africa Diaspora. MoAD connects all people through shared African heritage and detailed, immersive exhibits. Throughout the year, they offer special programs that bring together people of all ages through dance, music, art talks, and more.

Sfo Museum Louis A Turpen Aviation Museum And Library

Top Things to Do in San Francisco’s Bay Area by Choice Hotels

San Franciscos Aviation Museum and Library offers a glimpse into the importance of commercial aviation and how it plays a role in our everyday life. Since it’s located in the International Terminal of the citys airport, this museum in San Francisco a great last stop in the City by the Bay to get entertained and informed. Modeled after the citys 1930 passenger lobby, the museum focuses on the history of the airline industry and the region-specific Pacific area. The museums exhibitions, research services, and educational programs are free of charge to the public. Its exhibitions are constantly changing, and focus on different aspects of the airline industry, such as fashion in-flight which discusses stewardess uniforms.

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Free Admission On The Second Tuesday Of Each Month

San Francisco Botanical Garden

The gardens are free daily from 7:30 to 9:30 am, the second Tuesday of every month, and on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Years Day. Note: San Francisco residents are free every day.Whats great for kids: Embedded within Golden Gate Park. Storytime and family tours are every other Sunday Find more family and community activities.Location: 1199 9th Ave, San Francisco

GLBT Historical Society Museum

The GLBT Historical Society Museum, located in Castro District, is the first stand-alone museum of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender history and culture in the United States. While designed primarily with an adult audience in mind, they welcome families and children.Whats great for kids: Ride a streetcar to get there, fun. Stop by the front desk to ask for a family-friendly path through the museum . Hot Cookie is one block away for an after-museum treat.Location: 4127 18th Street, San FranciscoWebsite >

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The Wells Fargo History Museum

The Wells Fargo History Museum is located in the center of San Franciscos financial district, and it has a fun museum all about the Wild West days of San Francisco.

Learn about Gold Rush Outlaws, see some gold nuggets and old money, and ride in a stagecoach! This museum is free all year long.

NOTE: This museum is temporarily closed as of Dec 2021.

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Museum Of Craft & Design

2569 3rd St.A non-collecting institution, the Museum of Craft and Design is one of North Americas few institutions dedicated to contemporary practices in craft and design. The museums mission is to explore the active roles craft and design play in everyday life through original and traveling exhibitions, collaborations with museums from around the world, and hands-on opportunities to learn how to make your own crafts.

The 11 Best Museums In San Francisco For 2022

Best Kid

Jessica NemireLast Updated: January 26, 2022

Visiting museums is one of the most popular activities to do in San Francisco, especially for families. But with so many museums in this iconic city, how do you choose which ones to visit on your trip? Allow us to help! Weve put together our picks for the best museums in San Francisco to round out your next trip to this fabulous city.

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Museum Of The American Indian

“American Gothic/Pueblo,” 1994, by David Bradley.

When ground broke on a housing project in 1960s Novato, it unearthed masses of artifacts left by the Coast Miwok, who called the region home until being forced off their land in the 19th century. The original project was axed and a museum dedicated to protecting and exhibiting the historical cultural materials of the regions tribal people went up in its place.

Today the Museum of the American Indian honors the countrys first peoples and educates visitors about their past and present. The institutions permanent collection contains more than 2,000 objects including Pomo dance regalia and four centuries worth of pottery from the Southwest visiting exhibitions, such as American Indian dolls and masks of the Pacific Northwest, are rotated regularly. The newly renovated museum reopens to the public on February 19th.

// Museum of the American Indian reopens after renovation Feb .19, 12:30pm to 4:30pm Fridays through Sundays 2200 Novato Blvd , .

Chinese Historical Society Of America: Best For Personal Stories Of Immigration

Visitors can picture what it was like to be Chinese in San Francisco during the gold rush, transcontinental railroad construction and Beat heyday in this excellent museum, originally built as Chinatowns YWCA in 1932. Historians have unearthed some fascinating artifacts relating to the Chinese history of San Francisco, including 1920s silk qipao dresses, WWII Chinatown nightclub posters, and Frank Wongs Chinatown miniatures.

Exhibits feature personal insights and Chinese American perspectives on national milestones in history including the Civil Rights movement, the Cold War, and the Chinese Exclusion Act, which officially excluded Chinese immigrants from US citizenship and civil rights from 1882 to 1943.

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Gregangelos Velocity Arts & Entertainment

Artist Gregangelo Herrera is the mastermind behind the circus troupe that combines aerial arts, motion media and optical illusions to create immersive experiences that are hard to describe.

Although much of their work consist of performances and installations, Gregangelo has also converted his own home into a museum.

This is no ordinary museum, though. Think of it as a theatrical experience instead. Or walking into a surrealist painting where circus acts come to life and where LED lights, twigs and branches, and colorful mosaics all coexist.

The house itself is massive, with about 30 rooms blending into each other. Youll find bejeweled bathrooms, alien rooms, a life-sized sarcophagus in the living room, and a real llama dressed as a unicorn living in the garden.

All proceeds from the two-hour guided tours of the home are donated to a local childrens arts organization.

Free Admission First Thursday Evenings For Bay Area Residents

Top 8 Museums to Visit | San Francisco


Tickets are free and reserving online is highly encouraged. Tickets go online two weeks in advance. The SFMOMA is one of the largest modern and contemporary art museums in the country with over 45,000 square feet of art-filled public spaces . The public spaces are open daily at 9:30 am with the last admission a half-hour before closing. The free admission on Thursdays is for 4 pm to 8 pm Bay Area residents with proof of residence.Another money-saving tip: Everyone 18 and under gets free admission every day.Whats great for kids: Colorful, interesting modern art exhibitions on every floor.Location: 151 Third Street, San FranciscoWebsite >

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San Francisco Fire Department Historical Society

Did you know that the San Francisco Fire Department has long been considered one of the best fire departments in the world?

The work of the men and women of the SFFD has saved the city from destruction multiple times.

Free all year long, shows some of the incredible events and people that forged the city that we have today.

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