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Best History Museums in San Francisco

, 8 Options Found

The Asian Art Museum is one of the largest museums in the Western world devoted exclusively to Asian art. Home to over thousands of treasures spanning 6000 years of history, the museum serves as a portal to the rich artistic cultures throughout Asia. Renowned architect Gae Aulenti oversaw the dramatic transformation of the building, which now features a massive gallery space. This majestic destination leads a diverse global audience towards the exploration of the unique, aesthetic and intellectual achievements of Asian art and culture.

Located across from Ghirardelli Square and housed in a 1930s building that resembles a ship, this museum chronicles maritime history with photographs and interesting displays. However, the real attraction here are the WPA-era murals that have been recently restored. Visitors will be delighted by the historic and vivid artwork. Hours vary with the different attractions within the park. The Visitor Center is located at 499 Jefferson Street and the Maritime Museum is at 900 Beach Street.

If you want to know how a cable car works, the Cable Car Museum is the place to learn. The world's first cable car rests here and with it a concise explanation of how those little cable cars make their way up those famous San Francisco hills. In an underground viewing area, you can look at the system's enormous cable wheels, which pull 11 miles (18 kilometers) of cable at 9.5 miles (15 kilometers) per hour. Closely examine the steel cables, gears, and pulleys that bring this city's most famous transportation to life. Don't miss the gift shop, where you can purchase your very own length of used cable!

The first thing you will learn here is that the fanciful polychrome paint jobs on San Francisco's Victorians are a recent invention. This turreted-and-gabled gingerbread fantasy is a uniform and authentic shade of gray. Inside, this large house still feels like the family home that it was from 1886 to 1972, with rooms covered in expensive wood paneling, embossed wallpapers and featuring marble fireplaces. Guided tours leave every 20-30 minutes and last about an hour.

Founded in 1984, the Contemporary Jewish Museum presents scholarly and artistic programs that explore the Jewish spirit and imagination. The museum offers contemporary views and Jewish perspectives on culture, history and art, with programs reflecting global ideas that tie to the past and remain relevant to all people today. World-renowned architect Daniel Libeskind was commissioned for the project. The 63,000 square foot museum provides a welcoming space where people from all backgrounds may encounter, celebrate and debate artistic forms of all varieties.

The GLBT History Museum, the first of its kind in all of the United States and the second in the world, sits fittingly just off Castro Street and 18th Street, home to a lot of gay culture and history. It opened 25 years to the day after the inauguration of the GLBT Historical Society which is aimed at gathering, protecting and interpreting the vast history of the LGBT community, thereby both offering exposure to and showing their support of these often marginalized groups. Pieces and exhibits at the museum come from the historical society's archives which are located at 657 Mission Street #300 and are accessible to both members and non-members (at restricted times). The organization is always looking for volunteers to help in its mission, so whether you are part of the family or an ally you are always welcome to lend a hand.

San Francisco's Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD) devotes itself to showcasing, through various mediums, the movement of Africans throughout the world. Photographs, artwork, narratives, all of these contribute to a growing understanding and appreciation of this complex human phenomenon. The museum holds a wealth of exhibitions, both on-location and online.

Get a little history of the wild wild west Wells Fargo-style, and check out the great collection of Gold Rush memorabilia at the Wells Fargo History Museum. The artifacts illustrate the impact of Wells Fargo in the development of the American West. You can view an original Concord stagecoach, strong boxes, gold nuggets, and mining tools, as well as century old photographs and documents of days gone past. The bookstore offers an excellent selection of books about the history of the area and of Wells Fargo.

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