Located in the state of California, San Francisco is not just the commercial and financial centre but also the cultural city of Northern California and rightfully so. Besides being characterized by modern skyscrapers and Victorian style buildings, the city is host to some cutting edge museums. There is no paucity of captivating, thought-provoking and astonishing exhibits at museums in San Francisco.
San Francisco offers a wide range to choose from. San Francisco’s museums are worth the visit not just because of the wide array of collections but also because of critically acclaimed architectures and panoramic views. Read on to find out more about them.
Best 11 Museums In San Francisco
Here is the compilation of some of the most captivating museums you should visit in San Francisco:
Located on the pristine waterfront at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero, the Exploratorium is one of the most interactive museums in San Francisco with a plethora of spellbinding exhibits for people of all ages. It uses play and learn concept to introduce visitors to scientific principles and experiments. The Tactile Dome lets children navigate a string of obstacles in total darkness using their sense of touch as the only guide through the course. Walk across the Fog Bridge by artist Fujiko Nakaya, step inside a tornado to kindle the curiosity, and there are more hands-on exhibits that you can explore. You need a San Francisco Citypass to visit this museum.
2. Walt Disney Family Museum
Located in the historic building in the Presidio, the Walt Disney Family Museum is dedicated to the life and work of Walt Disney, a pioneer of American animation industry and the creator of Mickey Mouse. The museum covers Walt Disney’s life from his childhood in the Midwest to his biggest successful films. You can watch a Disney classic, six days a week in the Fantasia-themed theatre. It features drawings, cartoons, movies, music, listening stations, and a picturesque model of Disneyland. Also, contemporary interactive galleries and exhibits are narrated in the voice of Walt.
3. de Young Museum
If you are an art lover, you must start with exploring the de Young Museum in the Golden Gate Park. Constructed from natural materials including copper this museum blends and totally syncs with its natural surroundings. It features renowned collections of American art from the colonial seventeenth century to twenty-first century. Contemporary art, photography, international textiles and costumes, art from commonwealth countries, the total collection exceeds 27,000 works. The outdoor environment of the new de Young also features a public sculpture garden and terrace which are places of special interest. For the best experience in this museum, visit on a Friday night when the museum exhibits themed-performances, organizes activities for children and serves alcoholic beverages to the adults.
4. Legion of Honor
Located in Lands End, it faces the Lincoln Park and the Golden Gate Bridge. To commemorate Californian soldiers who died in World War I, the Legion of Honor was built. Its neoclassical building complements the de Young Museum with a collection of European paintings, sculptures, photography and ancient art. The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco oversees both de Young and Legion of Honor museums. Therefore, a ticket at either museum gets you same-day admission into both. It also features the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts and performances on the Skinner pipe organ.
5. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art was founded in 1935 as the first contemporary art museum. It was transformed and reopened on 14th of May, 2016 and now takes pride in pushing the boundaries of the art world. It is a pilgrim for contemporary art lovers covering a wide variety of works from artists like Jackson Pollock, Paul Klee and Rene Magritte. It shows important bodies of works from the 1940s to the rudimentary shift to modernism. One can visit it with the San Francisco Citypass.
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6. California Academy of Sciences
True to its name, the California Academy of Sciences is the one-stop science museum in San Francisco housing an aquarium which covers an entire floor, a state-of-the-art planetarium, a four-storey rainforest habitat, a stunning coral reef ecosystem, natural history museum, and many more world-class research and educational programs. The building of the Academy is a spectacle itself, and the museum is home to millions of native flora. Adults can enjoy permanent exhibits and especially themed lectures with cocktails on Thursdays.
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7. Asian Art Museum
Located in the Civic Centre neighbourhood, the Asian Art Museum has the most substantial aggregation of Asian art in the country. It offers an astounding display of sacred Hindu sculptures, Indonesian shadow puppets, texts from the Ming dynasty, authentic Japanese tea-house, other Asian sculptures, paintings, armours, textiles, furniture originating from India, China, Turkey, Japan, the Philippines and other oriental countries.
8. California Historical Society
The exhibit space at the California Historical Society Museum has been collecting, preserving, and presenting the rich and enchanting history of California in all its iterations. The society conserves over half a million photographs, thousands of works of art and over 50,000 books, manuscripts, and magazines. Crafts of mostly forgotten artists are featured on rotating displays along with famous chapters of the past of California.
9. Contemporary Jewish Museum
Located in downtown San Francisco near the California Historical Society, the Contemporary Jewish Museum illustrates effective exhibitions and educational programs, on Jewish culture and history. It features directorial achievements of Stanley Kubrick, rock and roll revolution of Bill Graham and many more. Drop-In Art Studios and Textile Lab Gatherings are offered free with the museum admission throughout the year.
10. GLBT History Museum
Located in the heart of San Francisco’s Castro District, GLBT History Museum is one of the most beautiful museums in San Francisco. Founded in 1985 as a home for accumulating, conserving, and telling the story of the achievements and struggles of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community, this stand alone museum exemplifies queer history and culture through its exhibitions and programmes. Open since January 2011, the museum preserves and showcases the GLBT Historical Society’s archives in sheer depth. It also puts a great emphasis on the importance of queer history to the public to enhance their learnings about the past. One can witness wide-ranging exhibitions at this museum which focus on diversity and social justice. The museum houses three gallery spaces for exhibitions.
11. Museum of Craft & Design
The Museum of Craft & Design is one of the few North American institutions that is involved in contemporary practices in craft and design. It is a non-collecting museum and hence focuses its resources on exhibitions, educational programs, and public outreach. It provides comprehensive interaction methods to explore the active roles, craft, and design play in life through exhibitions, collaborations with museums all around the world and providing hands-on experiences of making your own craft.
San Francisco has lots to offer to its visitors. The manmade and natural landmarks, its art, culture, heritage buildings, and modern tall skyscrapers are reasons enough to visit this beautiful part of the US. Not to mention, San Francisco is the tech capital of the world today. Book your trip to USA with TravelTriangle and have a great time exploring the museums in San Francisco.
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