Thursday, September 20, 2012

San Francisco's Top 10 Offbeat Museums

Posted By on Thu, Sep 20, 2012 at 11:30 AM

click to enlarge The ever popular Craft Bar at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art
  • The ever popular Craft Bar at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art

As a local arts writer, I'm the first person friends and family go to when they want to visit a museum, but my answers often surprises them. I love the SFMOMA and the de Young as much as the next person, but there's more to this town than big museums. Nearly every neighborhood in San Francisco boasts a small museum with a highly specific focus, and here are the 10 best, offbeat, charming museums you should know about.

click to enlarge Plates fused together in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake at the San Francisco Fire Department Museum. - RANDY DODSON
  • Randy Dodson
  • Plates fused together in the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake at the San Francisco Fire Department Museum.

10. The San Francisco Fire Department Museum

Blink and you'll miss the entrance to the San Francisco Fire Department Museum in Pacific Heights, free to the public Thursday through Sunday from 1-4p.m. Whether you're into water grenades, Lillie Coit, bed keys, Mark Twain, immigration, carriages, guns, the 1906 fire, or just like looking at old timey photographs of hirsute men, this is the museum for you.

click to enlarge A gallery at the Long Now Foundation.
  • A gallery at the Long Now Foundation.

9. Long Now

The Long Now Foundation is tucked away in Fort Mason Center's Building A, but it has lofty goals: to make long-term thinking more common and creatively foster responsibility in the framework of the next 10,000 years. Stop by and see the Rosetta Project, a three-inch disk which promises to preserve civilization for us all.

click to enlarge The GLBT Museum.
  • The GLBT Museum.

8. The GLBT History Museum

The first of its kind in the United States, the GLBT History Museum consistently produces innovative exhibitions and special programs. Open seven days a week, the museum celebrates 100 years of the city's vast queer past through exhibitions highlighting treasures culled from the archives, including two new shows opening later this month. "For Love and Community: Queer Asian Pacific Islanders Take Action" spotlights photographs and audio clips of activism. A corner gallery exhibition will focus on the modest publication, "Play Fair," which launched the gay community's sex-positive response to the AIDS crisis.

click to enlarge The Cartoon Art Museum
  • The Cartoon Art Museum

7. The Cartoon Art Museum

The Cartoon Art Museum houses over 6,000 pieces and has five regularly changing galleries of exhibition space, along with exciting lectures, cartooning classes and workshops, as well as an excellent bookstore. Visit "Avengers Assemble!" to see five decades of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, including Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and the Incredible Hulk.

6. The Museum of Craft and Folk Art

The exhibitions at the Museum of Craft and Folk Art are constantly changing, but you have until December to catch "Fiber Futures: Japan's Textile Pioneers." The show explores new art emerging from the fusion of Japanese artisanal and industrial textile making. On the first Thursday of each month the museum works with Etsy for the Craft Bar, a wildly popular special program with just the right mix of instruction and socializing. Earlier this month, artist Suzanne Morlock taught attendees how to transform old cassette tapes into a fiber-forward fashion accessory. In October, Rebecca Burgess will lead a workshop on creating individual natural dyes using locally grown coreopsis tinctorium.

  • Pin It

Tags: , , , , , , ,

About The Author

Alexis Coe

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed

Like us on Facebook

Slideshows

  • Nevada City and the South Yuba River: A gold country getaway

    Nestled in the green pine-covered hills of the Northern Sierra Nevada is the Gold Rush town of Nevada City. Beautiful Victorian houses line the streets, keeping the old-time charm alive, and a vibrant downtown is home to world-class art, theater and music. The nearby South Yuba River State Park is known for its emerald swimming holes during the summer and radiant leaf colors during autumn. These days the gold panning is more for tourists than prospectors, but the gold miner spirit is still in the air.

    South Yuba River State Park and Swimming Holes:
    The park runs along and below 20 miles of the South Yuba River, offering hiking, mountain biking, gold panning and swimming. The Highway 49 bridge swimming hole is seven-miles northwest of Nevada City where Highway 49 crosses the South Yuba River. Parking is readily available and it is a short, steep hike to a stunning swimming hole beneath a footbridge. For the more intrepid, trails extend along the river with access to secluded swim spots. The Bridgeport swimming hole has calm waters and a sandy beach -- good for families and cookouts -- and is located 14 miles northwest of Nevada City. Be sure to write down directions before heading out, GPS may not be available. Most swimming holes on the South Yuba River are best from July to September, while winter and spring can bring dangerous rapids. Always know the current before jumping in!

    Downtown Nevada City
    The welcoming, walkable downtown of Nevada City is laid back, yet full of life. Start your day at the cozy South Pine Cafe (110 S Pine St.) with a lobster benedict or a spicy Jamaican tofu scramble. Then stroll the streets and stop into the shop Kitkitdizzi (423 Broad St.) for handcrafted goods unique to the region, vintage wears and local art “all with California gold rush swagger,” as stated by owners Carrie Hawthorne and Kira Westly. Surrounded by Gold Rush history, modern gold jewelry is made from locally found nuggets and is found at Utopian Stone Custom Jewelers (301 Broad St.). For a coffee shop with Victorian charm try The Curly Wolf (217 Broad St.), an espresso house and music venue with German pastries and light fare. A perfect way to cool down during the hot summer months can be found at Treats (110 York St.) , an artisan ice cream shop with flavors like pear ginger sorbet or vegan chai coconut. Nightlife is aplenty with music halls, alehouses or dive bars like the Mine Shaft Saloon (222 Broad St.).

    The Willo Steakhouse (16898 State Hwy 49, Nevada City)
    Along Highway 49, just west of Nevada City, is The Willo, a classic roadhouse and bar where you’re welcomed by the smell of steak and a dining room full of locals. In 1947 a Quonset hut (a semi-cylindrical building) was purchased from the US Army and transported to its current location, and opened as a bar, which became popular with lumberjacks and miners. The bar was passed down through the decades and a covered structure was added to enlarge the bar and create a dining area. The original Quonset beams are still visible in the bar and current owners Mike Byrne and Nancy Wilson keep the roadhouse tradition going with carefully aged New York steaks and house made ingredients. Pair your steak or fish with a local wine, such as the Rough and Ready Red, or bring your own for a small corkage fee. Check the website for specials, such as rib-eye on Fridays.

    Outside Inn (575 E Broad St.)
    A 16-room motel a short walk from downtown, each room features a unique décor, such as the Paddlers’ Suite or the Wildflower Room. A friendly staff and an office full of information about local trails, swimming and biking gets you started on your outdoor exploration. Amenities include an outdoor shower, a summer swimming pool and picnic tables and barbeques. Don’t miss the free vegetable cart just outside the motel in the mornings.

    Written and photographed by Beth LaBerge for the SF Weekly.

  • Arcade Fire at Shoreline
    Arcade Fire opened their US tour at Shoreline Amphitheater to a full house who was there in support of their album "Reflector," which was released last fall. Dan Deacon opened the show to a happily surprised early audience and got the crowd actively dancing and warmed up. DEVO was originally on the bill to support Arcade Fire but a kayak accident last week had sidelined lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh and the duration of the west coast leg of the tour. Win Butler did a homage to DEVO by performing Uncontrollable Urge.