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Thursday, September 20, 2012

San Francisco's Top 10 Offbeat Museums

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

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  • San Francisco History Center, San Francisco Public Library
  • A street kitchen.

5. S.F. Public Library

The San Francisco Public Library has non-circulating special collections and various exhibitions spaces throughout the building, which highlight archival treasures, including rare books, photographs, posters, manuscripts, and ephemera. The History Center serves as a repository for all aspects of San Francisco life and history, and will open an exciting new exhibition this week on the second floor. "Street Food: 1906 Earthquake Kitchens" will show "a city torn but banding together for survival and, as will be found with good food, even some pleasure in the face of disaster."

Singing the Golden State at the Society of Pioneers.
  • Singing the Golden State at the Society of Pioneers.

4. The California Society of Pioneers

Are you the descendent of a pioneer who arrived in California prior to 1850? If not, you can't join the Society of Pioneers, but you can visit. Pay the $5 admission and wander through "Singing the Golden State," an exhibition celebrating California's early musical life. James M. Keller, renowned program annotator, took time away from dual appointments at the New York Philharmonic and the San Francisco Symphony to curate the show, lending many items from his personal collection. The Society is open Wednesday - Friday 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Thursday until 7 p.m.


3. The Museum of the African Diaspora

The Museum of the African Diaspora embraces technology to teach visitors about "the scattering of people from Africa and the sowing of their cultures globally." Interactive displays and multimedia presentations are typically utilized to explore the global African experience. Permanent exhibitions cover the origins, migration, adaptation and transformation of the cultures and cultural beliefs, and practices of African descendants, including "Culinary Traditions" and the "Freedom Theater." A new show opening at the end of the month: "Desert Jewels: North African Jewelry and Photography from the Xavier Guerrand-Hermes Collection," will feature 94 spectacular jewelry pieces.

Museum of Performance and Design.
  • Museum of Performance and Design.

2. The Museum of Performance and Design

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The Museum of Performance and Design is an overlooked treasure in San Francisco. Located on the fourth floor of the Veteran's Building on Van Ness, it houses the history of the performing arts in the city. The exhibition "Toy Theaters: Worlds in Miniature" features 21 rare toy theaters dating from the 18th century to the present.

Fast passes at the Railway Museum.
  • Fast passes at the Railway Museum.

1. S.F. Railway Museum

After you've sampled everything the Ferry building has to offer, head over to the San Francisco Railway Museum, open Tuesday - Sunday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Admission is free for this sleek, miniature museum, and an employee will likely direct you to complement the visit by hopping on the F streetcar line, a historical fleet considered one of the most outstanding in the world. View urban life in San Francisco through the lens of transit history, and you won't be disappointed.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook. Follow Alexis Coe on twitter @alexis_coe.
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