Our critics weigh in on local exhibits

Lawrence Hall of Science. "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. "Forces That Shape the Bay": The museum's permanent science park exhibit explores new ways to understand the bay. Daily. Centennial & Grizzly Peak, Berkeley, 510-642-5132.

Legion of Honor. "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. "After The Ruins": Through June 4. Free-$10. "Connoisseurship and Commerce: The Legacy of R. E. Lewis": This exhibition recognizes the late Raymond E. Lewis (1923-2005), one of the most distinguished art dealers in the United States. Through Feb. 19. "Politics and Wit: The Comic Genius of André Gill": In the waning days of the Second Empire, in 1860s France, an artist emerged of originality and satiric bite whose caricatures of the leading politicians, actors, writers, and artists were the talk of Paris. Through April 30. Ford Free Tuesdays: Get in free to the Legion of Honor every Tuesday, thanks to a grant from the Ford Motor Co. Tuesdays. Free. 100 34th Ave. (near Clement), 863-3330, www.thinker.org.

Museum of the African Diaspora. "Linkages and Themes in the African Diaspora": Along with "Made in Africa," the inaugural exhibit of this new major museum. Through March 12. St. Regis Hotel, 685 Mission (at Third St.), 358-7200, www.moadsf.org.

Pacific Heritage Museum. "Rustic Splendors": Ceramics from China. Through March 25. free. 608 Commercial (at Montgomery), 399-1124.

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, www.randallmuseum.org.

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. 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. "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. "Richard Long: The Path Is the Place Is the Line": Long assembles elements that document and reflect on a recent three-week walk he took along the Pacific Crest Trail in California's Sierra Nevada mountains. Through April 25. 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org.

SF Museum of Modern Art. William Kentridge: An artist talk by South African artist Kentridge, who creates profound works using charcoal drawings as the basis for animated films. Thu., Jan. 26, 7 p.m. $8-$10. 151 Third St. (between Mission & Howard), 357-4027.

SF Museum of Modern Art. "Architecture & Design Permanent Collection": An ongoing presentation featuring more than 100 works illustrating concepts in design and architecture. 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. "Richard Long: The Path Is the Place Is the Line": Long assembles elements that document and reflect on a recent three-week walk he took along the Pacific Crest Trail in California's Sierra Nevada mountains. Through April 25. 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org. SF Museum of Modern Art. Art and Conversation: Curatorial Associate Ruth Keffer presents a lecture about significant moments in contemporary architectural photography, concluding with images by Todd Eberle, whose work is currently on view. Fri., Jan. 27, noon. free. "1906 Earthquake: A Disaster in Pictures": "1906 Earthquake" explores a variety of photographic responses to the disaster, with professional views of the destroyed city, such as spectacular panoramas by the firm Garrison and Huddleston and glass lantern slides by Arnold Genthe. Through May 30. "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. Spotlight Tours: These innovative tours bring artists' voices directly to visitors, beginning with a short video clip of a featured artist, then moving into the galleries for viewing and discussion. Fridays-Sundays, noon. Art:21: Stories: Kiki Smith: The 15-minute film plays daily except Wednesdays at 2 p.m. Through Jan. 29, 2 p.m. Kiki Smith: "Kiki Smith: A Gathering" presents an array of Smith's work -- including sculptures, works on paper, prints, and paintings. Through Jan. 29. "Architectural Abstractions": Through March 7. Stones & Flies: Richard Long in the Sahara: A film by Philip Haas. Jan. 30-March 2, 2 p.m. free. "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. SFMOMA Collection Highlights: In addition to spotlighting photographs, paintings, and sculptures in the SFMOMA collection, this audio guide includes a musical tour. Daily. $3. "Chuck Close: Self-Portraits 1967-2005": An exhibit corresponding with the publication of a book by the same title. Through Feb. 28. "Wangechi Mutu": Through April 4. "Double Feature: Steve McQueen and Peter Sarkisian": Exhibtion of the artists' work. Through May 21. "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. Daily Tours: Topics change daily for these free tours led by SFMOMA docents. Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays-Sundays, 11:30 a.m., 12:30, 1:30 & 2:30 p.m. 151 Third St. (at Mission), 357-4000, www.sfmoma.org.

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