Hidden Museums of San Francisco

September 15, 2011 9:17 AM

credit: guardiansofthecity.org

While you shouldn’t miss San Francisco heavy hitters, smaller, surprising museums dot the city, providing a fascinating glimpse into an eclectic range of subject matter. From pioneer history to cable cars, here is our list of rarely discovered gems in Hidden Museums of San Francisco.

Society of California Pioneers

300 Fourth Street
San Francisco, CA 94107-1272
(415) 957-1849
Society of California Pioneers

Housed in a nondescript building on Folsom at Fourth Street, The Society of California Pioneers maintains a rotating schedule of stimulating, cross-disciplinary exhibitions focused on California art, history, and culture. The Society of California Pioneers is actually an association for people who can trace their ancestry to the original settlers of California, from 1850 and back, although the museum is open to all. Featuring local history on everything from the famed San Francisco Seals baseball team to over 50,000 images and glass plate negatives, creating a vivid record of the lives of California’s settlers.

Museum of Performance and Design

Veteran’s Building
401 Van Ness Ave., Fourth Floor
San Francisco, CA
(415) 255-4800
Museum of Performance and Design

The Museum of Performance & Design is the first museum in the country dedicated exclusively to the performing arts and theatrical design. Educating people of all ages about the impact and value of the performing arts in their lives, the museum is free to the public. Located in the Veterans Building in San Francisco’s Civic Center, the SFMPD collects, preserves, and makes available a collection of 3.5 million items and programs documenting the diverse cultural legacy of the performing arts in California and beyond, including an extensive collection of oral histories of performing artists. Special exhibits have included a Tribute to Noel Coward and Toy Theater, featuring miniature toy theaters dating as far back as the 18th century.

cartoonart Hidden Museums of San Francisco

credit: cartoonart.org

Cartoon Art Museum

655 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA
(415) CAR-TOON
Cartoon Art Museum

From editorial cartoons to comic books, graphic novels to anime, Sunday funnies to Saturday morning cartoons, the Cartoon Art Museum has something for everyone. Located downtown in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena cultural district, the museum is home to over 6,000 pieces of original and cartoon and animation art, a comprehensive research library, and five galleries of exhibition space. Whether it’s nostalgic, educational, or just plain fun, a trip to the Cartoon Art Museum will be an experience you will never forget.

guardiansofthecity Hidden Museums of San Francisco

credit: guardiansofthecity.org

San Francisco Fire Department Museum

655 Presidio Ave.
San Francisco, CA
(415) 563-4630

Hydrants! Helmets! Extinguishers, oh my! Learn the history of the San Francisco Fire Department at this fun, free museum. Open Thursday thru Sunday from 1-4pm, bring the whole family to explore decades-worth of photos, vintage fire houses, uniforms, a gift-shop and an entire apparatus section, not to mention a Tribute to Fire Horses. Perfect for kids of all ages, the San Francisco Fire Museum is a must-stop for any fan of firefighters.

Chinese Cultural Center of San Francisco

750 Kearny Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA
(415) 986-1822
Chinese Culture Center

The Chinese Cultural Center, totaling 20,000 square feet, include a 299-seat auditorium, a large gallery, book shop, and classroom. Conveniently located between Chinatown and the Financial District, the Center attracts a broad spectrum of audiences from the Chinese community, the city at large, as well as visitors from all over the country. The Center offers everything from lectures, workshops, and classes to art exhibitions, dance and musical performances, and cultural exchanges. Add a stop to the Center on your tour of Chinatown and truly appreciate the exciting culture and lengthy history of one of San Francisco’s most fascinating neighborhoods.

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