Sculpture Garden, deYoung Museum (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)
After talking to a little gathering of Bay Area kids at their summer camp about their favorite art exhibits, these are their current top choices. These kid magnets provide a refresh as we update this list of must-see museums.
“Rolling Through the Bay”
Pier 15, The Embarcadero
San Francisco, CA 94111
Have you dropped a ping pong ball into “Rolling Through the Bay,” the ever-expanding sculpture 38 years in the making by one man using 100,000 toothpicks and Elmer’s glue? It’s just one of the cool art exhibits kids love at the Exploratorium. Senior Scientist Paul Doherty says learning is fun, “We bring you to the edge of your understanding, and then we can move it up a notch together.” As Doherty reminds, Exploratorium founder Frank Oppenheimer famously quipped, “No one ever flunked a museum.” Wonderful “Aha!” moments await throughout the Tinkering Studio and beyond.
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
Date: Through Nov. 30, 2014
News flash: kids are interested in 640 different dead heads, especially ones they can touch and even hold. Scientists and researchers at the museum explain how the clues left by skulls can tell us more stories about how the animals lived than about their deaths. One of these skulls is 3.3 million years old and others are still having dried flesh chewed off by beetle larvae. The next Sunday free admission day is on September 14, 2014 and a series of free days by neighborhood is between September 26 and October 26, 2014.
Muir Woods National Monument
1 Muir Woods Road
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Perhaps the wonderful sectional view of a Sequoia Sempervirens doesn’t come to mind first as an art exhibit. But, it does for Bay Area kids. The rings of a fallen giant redwood are marked with historical landmarks, including the signing of the “Declaration of Independence,” right back to the birth of the tree in A.D. 909. The “Quest at Muir Woods” is a free and fun interactive learning tool for exploring the woods,developed by Save the Redwoods League with the National Park Service. These magnificent woods are surely one of the best living museums and admission is free for those ages 15 and younger.
Sculpture Garden at De Young Museum
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
Of course, it’s safe! Sculptor Claes Oldenburg creates super-sized whimsical everyday items, such as a 21-foot, blue safety pin, as public art. Kids just love running around among the sculptures in the outdoor garden at the deYoung. Oversized shiny ceramic red delicious apples scattered on the grassy lawn are a favorite. Children may not appreciate that greats such as Henry Moore, Alexander Calder, Juan Muñoz, Joan Miró and Mark di Suvero are represented here. Regardless, they’re drawn to these masterpieces. If you want to discuss it, the museum café is adjacent and neither it nor the sculpture garden attract an admission fee.
214 California Drive
Burlingame, CA 94010
How can it be explained? Twenty-something Millennials love the Beatles and the current pre-teen set really digs Pez dispensers. Peninsula kids chose this as one of their favorite art exhibits. Virtually every type of Pez dispenser ever sold is exhibited in this small and quirky palace, along with baby boomer candy. Check out the world’s largest Pez dispenser.