Art Beat

Our critics weigh in on local exhibits

Cable Car Museum. Permanent Exhibit: Located in a historic cable car powerhouse, the museum displays a variety of cable car gear, historic photographs, installations explaining how the cars work, and several antique vehicles. Daily. Free. 1201 Mason (at Washington), 474-1887.

California Academy of Sciences. "Astrobiology: Life in the Extreme": A permanent exhibition that explores the types of environments in the universe that could support life. Daily. 875 Howard (at Fifth St.), 750-7145, www.calacademy.org.

Cartoon Art Museum. "Garfield: Meow and Then": A look back at 27 years' worth of comics about the fat, lazy, cynical orange cat. Through Sept. 25. Free-$6. "Small Press Spotlight Featuring Graham Annable": Voted Best Unknown Local Cartoonist by the SF Weekly, the self-published comic's exhibit includes his Grickle booklets. Through July 24. Free-$6. "Play Ball": Over 40 baseball cartoons from 1945-1965 by legendary cartoonist Willard Mullin. Through Oct. 30. 655 Mission (at New Montgomery), 227-8666, www.cartoonart.org.

Chabot Space & Science Center. "Mars Encounter": The National Aeuronautics and Space Administration sponsors this exhibit on travel to Mars, which includes data on current and past missions, a giant tactile Mars globe, and Martian meteorites. "One Giant Leap: A Moon Odyssey": Take a simulated moonwalk, try on a space helmet, climb into a space capsule, and virtually land a lunar module in this exhibit. "Astronomy in California 1850-1950: Telescope Makers, Telescopes, and Artifacts": Take a look at California's rich history in astronomy with this display of telescopes, astronomy history documents, and other ephemera. "Skywise -- Astronomy Cartoon Exhibit": Help your child understand that vastness and majesty of space with this exhibit of astronomy comic strips. "Destination Universe": Take a virtual journey from the sun to the end of the cosmos with exhibits on nebulae, space travel, black holes, and moving galaxies. All exhibits daily. Free with museum admission, $9-$13. 10000 Skyline (at Joaquin Miller) (Joaquin Miller Park), Oakland, 510-336-7300.

Contemporary Jewish Museum. "Scents of Purpose": The museum showcases more than 90 artists' interpretations on the spice box, an item that's used in the havdalah, a Sabbath prayer service. Through Sept. 5. Free-$5. 344-8800. 121 Steuart (at Mission), 591-8800, www.thecjm.org.

Exploratorium. "Sculptural Information": Sculptural works spotlighting the icons of the information age -- books, print, X-rays, and typewriters. Through Sept. 11. Free with museum admission. "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.

Judah L. Magnes Museum. "The People and the Book: Paintings and Rare Books From the Museum's Collection": An exhibition of works dating from the 19th and 20th centuries and depicting people who write, read, or study from books. Through July 3. "Shtetl": Multimedia exhibit by Naomie Kremer. Through July 31. "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. 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. "Artwear: Fashion and Anti-fashion": A retrospective of wearable art spanning 35 years and more than 100 pieces. The show begins its study with crocheted garments worn by 1960s fashionistas and moves through the decades to modern-day haute couture. Through Oct. 30. $2-$12. 750-3614. www.legionofhonor.org. "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. "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. 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.

Museum of Craft & Folk Art. "Puppets From Around the World": Over 100 puppets from around the world are showcased in this exhibit, including hand puppets, rod puppets, shadow puppets, and marionettes. Through July 24. "Sanctuary in an Age of Commodity: The Art of Tobi Kahn": The artist's work for this exhibit is inspired by memorial roadside shrines to accident victims around the world. Through July 24. Free-$4. www.mocfa.org. Fort Mason, Bldg. A (Marina & Buchanan), 775-0991.

Oakland Museum of California. "Sculpture by Bruce Beasley: A 45-Year Retrospective": Work by Bay Area abstract sculptor. Through July 31. 1000 Oak (at 10th St.), Oakland, 510-238-2200, www.museumca.org.

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