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Our critics weigh in on local exhibits

Mills College Art Museum. "Improving the Bow Tie": The art of African-American quiltmakers based on the popular bow-tie pattern. Through Aug. 7. free. "Second to the Gods": Three exhibitions of African art: "Royal Regalia of the Yoruba," "The Seat of Power," and "Fertility." Through Aug. 7. Free. "Oakland Picture Lady: Traci Bartlow": Bartlow creates an installation with photographs of the 98th Avenue area of East Oakland. Through Aug. 7. 5000 MacArthur (at Buell), Oakland, 510-430-2164, www.mills.edu/MCAM.

Museum of Craft & Folk Art. "Convergence: Crossing the Divide": An exhibition of studio furniture by artists from Tasmania and America. Through Sept. 25. 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.

Oakland Museum of California Sculpture Court. "The Chess Set": A mythologically inspired exhibition by sculptor Jane Grimm. Through Aug. 10. 1111 Broadway (at 11th St.), Oakland, 510-238-2200.

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. "Endless Energy: Power for a Small Planet": An interactive exhibition exploring renewable energy options. Through Oct. 22. "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. "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 Maritime National Historical Park. "Sparks, Waves, & Wizards: Communication at Sea": The permanent exhibit presents artifacts exploring the means of maritime communications. Daily. Free-$6. Fort Mason Building E (Marina & Buchanan), 561-7000.

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 and programs. Daily. "Maestro!: Photographic Portraits by Tom Zimberoff": The artist captures a generation of national and international conductors in his portraits. Daily. 401 Van Ness (at McAllister), 255-4800, www.sfpalm.org.

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.

SF Maritime Museum. Permanent Collection of Ship Models: A big collection of figureheads, maritime paintings, photos, and artifacts. Daily. free-$3. Fisherman's Wharf (at Polk), 556-3002.

SF Museum of Modern Art. "Architecture & Design Permanent Collection": An ongoing presentation featuring more than 100 works illustrating concepts in design and architecture. Daily. "The Art of Design": A permanent exhibition of works in the museum's architecture and design collection, including works of graphic and industrial design (such as the famous Fillmore rock posters by Bonnie MacLean, Victor Moscoso, and Stanley Mouse). Daily. "Matisse and Beyond: The Painting and Sculpture Collection": Magnificent works of painting and sculpture culled from SFMOMA's own collections provide a quick tour of modern art from Fauvism to Minimalism. Daily. "Between Art and Life: The Contemporary Painting and Sculpture Collection": The ongoing exhibition presents works from SFMOMA's own collections, with special installations on artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Robert Gober, Eva Hesse, Anish Kapoor, Sherrie Levine, Brice Marden, Gordon Matta-Clark, Barry McGee, Bruce Nauman, Robert Rauschenberg, and Kara Walker. Daily. "2x4/design series 3": Works from the New Yorkbased graphic design firm 2x4 for clientele including Prada, the Brooklyn Museum, KnollTextiles, Princeton School of Architecture, and Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra. Through Sept. 25. "Taking Place": Photographs from the Prentice and Paul Sack Collection. Through Sept. 6. "Picturing Modernity: Selections From the SFMOMA Collection": An exhibition of photographs from SFMOMA's own collection that illustrate a wide range of photographic styles. Daily. "The Art of Richard Tuttle": More than 300 works comprise this retrospective exhibit. Through Oct. 16. 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org.

Zeum. "Toyz": Hands-on activities teach kids about the latest in tech toys. Daily. Free with museum admission, free-$7. 221 Fourth St. (at Howard), 777-2800.

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