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San Francisco's Top 10 : Museums

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  1. San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

    The city’s stylish home for 20th-century European and American art and contemporary multimedia works is a sparkling cultural hub in the South of Market area. Its collections span the whole modern spectrum, from proto-Impressionists to cutting-edge digital installations .

  2. California Academy of Sciences

    This newly transformed science museum re-opened in September 2008 with sustainable features that blend architecture with the park’s natural surroundings. The museum covers virtually every aspect of the natural world .

  3. Legion of Honor

    This museum, located above Land’s End, is one of the city’s major venues for pre-modern Western art. It is also a beautiful building in a gorgeous natural setting, so well worth the time it takes to get to. It contains mostly European works, including masterpieces by Rubens, Rembrandt, Georges de la Tour, Degas, Rodin, and Monet.

    Lincoln Park

    • 34th Ave & Clement St

    • 415 863 3330

    • Open 9:30am–5pm Tue–Sun

    • Dis. access

    • Adm

    • www.thinker.org

    The Shades by Auguste Rodin, the Legion of Honor
  4. de Young

    The old de Young was too damaged in the 1989 earthquake to be saved, but a new state-of-the-art facility opened in 2005. The museum’s extensive collection includes 19th-century and contemporary American art, and pre-Columbian-American, African, and Oceanic works.

    • 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park

    • 415 863 3330

    • Open 9:30am–5pm Tue–Sun, until 8:45pm Fri; closed major public hols

    • Dis. access

    • Adm

    • www.thinker.org

    de Young
  5. Asian Art Museum

    The new Asian Art Museum is set in the entirely restructured and seismically retrofitted old Main Library in the Civic Center. The vast and important collection of Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian works is displayed according to their country of origin. But the layout also demonstrates the flow and transformation of Buddhist art from India and outward into the entire Far East. Included is the fabulous Avery Brundage collection of Oriental jade.

    • 200 Larkin St

    • 415 581 3500

    • Open 10am–5pm Tue–Sun, 10am–9pm Thur

    • Adm

    • www.asianart.org

  6. San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design

    Established in 2004, this one-of-a-kind museum, housed in an elegant building fronted by a charming courtyard, celebrates and promotes contemporary craft and design through innovative exhibitions and educational programs. They organize lots of lectures, special events, and programs for children. There is also a great museum store with many original pieces for sale.

    • 550 Sutter St

    • 415 773 0303

    • Open 10am–5pm Tue–Sat (to 7pm Thu), noon–5pm Sun

    • Dis. access

    • Adm

    • www.sfmcd.com

  7. Cable Car Museum

    This brick, warehouse-like structure houses the nuts and bolts machinery that keeps the entire cable car system operating. Don’t miss a look downstairs at the giant, spool-like sheaves winding the fat cables round and round .

    Cable Car Museum
  8. Musée Mechanique and Holographic Museum

    A quaint, time-warp experience awaits you here. As you approach the lower level, you’ll be greeted by the loud guffaws of Laughing Sal, the enormous, buxom figure that is a relic of the old Playland at the Beach. There are also many other often ingenious mechanical devices that once crowded the arcade. Don’t miss the recreation in miniature of a Chinese opium den. In addition, there is a small collection devoted to the art of holography.

    • Pier 45, Fisherman’s Wharf

    • Open 10am–7pm Mon– Fri, 10am–8pm Sat–Sun

    • 415 346 2000

    • Free

    • www.museemechanique.org

  9. Seymour Pioneer Museum

    This museum has fascinating historical exhibits of 19th- and 20th-century California. The upstairs gallery displays furniture, sculpture, and paintings.

  10. Wells Fargo History Museum

    The Wells Fargo stagecoaches are the stuff of legends, above all for the tales of their stalwart drivers and the robbers who held them up. Visitors can hear how it must have been to sit on little more than a buckboard for days by listening to the recorded diary of one Francis Brocklehurst. Other exhibits include Pony Express mail, gold nuggets, and photos, and Emperor Norton’s currency .

    Bronze stagecoach (1984), Wells Fargo History Museum
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