Artbeat

Our critics weigh in on local exhibits

Chinese Culture Center. "Celebrating Spring: The Chinese Folk Art Way": Explore the objects that help Chinese communities welcome spring each year. Through May 1. Free. 750 Kearny (at Washington) (Third Fl.), 986-1822, www.c-c-c.org.

Exploratorium. "Traits of Life": A major exhibition area with 30 biology exhibits and demonstrations that help visitors understand the fundamental elements common to all living things from humans to amoebas. Daily. Free with museum admission. 3601 Lyon (at Marina), 397-5673, www.exploratorium.edu.

The Holocaust Center of Northern California. "Holocaust Center of Northern California": The newly opened center's first exhibit showcases its facilities, including a library with more than 15,000 historical volumes, a reading room for screening documentaries and holding educational talks, and ongoing displays of the center's thousands of photographs and artifacts. Tuesdays, Thursdays, 1-6 p.m.; Mondays, Wednesdays, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. free. 121 Steuart (at Mission), 777-9060, www.holocaust-sf.org.

Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts. "On the Edge: Contemporary Chinese Artists Encounter the West": An exhibit that spotlights the artistic reaction of Chinese artists to Western aesthetics and politics. Through May 1. Free. Lomita and Museum (Stanford campus), Stanford, 650-723-4177.

Judah L. Magnes Museum. "Sephardic Horizons": An exhibition of ephemera collected from the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim cultures of the Iberian Peninsula during the 14th through the 18th centuries. Through July 15. "The People and the Book: Paintings and Rare Books From the Museum's Collection": An exhibition of works dating from the 19th to the 20th centuries and depicting people who write, read, or study from books. Through July 3. Free with museum admission, $4-6. 2911 Russell (at Pine), Berkeley, 510-549-6950.

Lawrence Hall of Science. "Forces That Shape the Bay": The museum's permanent science park exhibit explores new ways to understand the bay. Daily. "Prove It -- A ChemMystery": Kids and adults attempt to solve crimes using the basic forensic skills they learn step-by-step at the exhibit. Daily. Free with admission, free-$8.50. Centennial & Grizzly Peak, Berkeley, 510-642-5132.

Legion of Honor. "Windows Facing East: The Japanese Influence on European and American Prints": The exhibit spotlights the explosive affect of the Japanese aesthetic in the West after 1853. Through April 30. Free with museum admission, free-$12. "Doing and Viewing Art": Kids aged 7-12 and their families tour the Legion of Honor's galleries before taking part in a hands-on creative workshop led by a professional artist. Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. Free with museum entrance fee, free-$8. "Big Kids/Little Kids": Children aged 3 1/2 to 6 years and their parents take a gallery tour and then participate in a related hands-on art activity. Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. Free with museum admission, free-$8. Ford Free Tuesdays: Get in free to the Legion of Honor every Tuesday thanks to a grant from the Ford Motor Company. Tuesdays. Free. 100 34th Ave. (at Clement), 863-3330.

Museo ItaloAmericano. "A.G. Rizzoli: Architect of Magnificent Visions": A 60-year retrospective of the work of the San Francisco draftsman who spent a lifetime drawing fantastic imaginary buildings and cities. Through May 8. Free-$3. Fort Mason, Bldg. C (Marina & Buchanan), 673-2200.

Pacific Heritage Museum. "Vision and Virtuosity": Exhibition of contemporary paintings featuring the works of over 30 artists from China. Through June 25. 608 Commercial (at Montgomery), 399-1124.

Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology. "Tesoros Escondidos: Hidden Treasures From the Mexican Collections": Hundreds of artifacts never before exhibited publicly. Through June 26. Kroeber Hall, UC Berkeley Campus, Berkeley, 510-643-7648, hearstmuseum.berkeley.edu.

Pier 45. "Amusing America": The evolution of modern amusement parks and their effects on the American cultural landscape are examined in this conglomeration of photographs, penny-arcade machines, and other ephemera. Daily, 10 a.m. Free. Fisherman's Wharf (Taylor & Jefferson), 552-1266.

Randall Museum. "Drop-In Art and Science Workshops": Each week kids and parents can participate in artistic activities that illuminate some aspect of science. Saturdays, 1 p.m. $3 per person. "Saturdays Are Special": Ongoing weekly drop-in, hands-on art and science workshops. Saturdays, 1 p.m. Free-$3. 199 Museum (at Roosevelt), 554-9600.

San Francisco Fire Museum. San Francisco Fire Museum Permanent Exhibits: Included among the items on display at this museum are antique fire extinguishers, old uniforms, cast-iron replicas of historic fire engines, hooks, ladders, and other ephemera. Daily. Free. 655 Presidio Avenue (at Bush), 563-4630.

San Francisco Performing Arts Library & Museum. "150 Years of Dance in California": The exhibit spotlights over a century of dance in the Golden State with photographs, programs, and other ephemera. Daily. "Maestro!: Photographic Portraits by Tom Zimberoff": The artist captures a generation of national and international conductors in his portraits. Daily. "Painted Men: Chinese Opera Backstage": A behind-the-scenes look at Chinese opera through artifacts such as props, costumes, scripts, photographs, and musical instruments. Through June 4. 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), 255-4800, www.sfpalm.org.

San Francisco's Maritime National Historical Park. "Sparks, Waves, & Wizards: Communication at Sea": The permanent exhibit presents artifacts and ephemera exploring the means of maritime communications. Daily. Free-$6. Hyde Street Pier (foot of Hyde near Jefferson), 561-6662.

San Jose Museum of Art. "Inside Out: Selections From the Permanent Collection": Highlights of the museum's 35th-anniversary exhibition include Mildred Howard's Abode: Sanctuary for the Familia(r), a chamber built of blue glass bottles, and Brian Goggin's Desire for the Other, a couch stuffed with household appliances. Daily. Free. 110 South Market (at San Fernando), San Jose, 408-271-6840.

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