Museum Lovers

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most densely populated areas in the US, second only to Brooklyn, New York. It is also very diverse and home to artists, athletes, software engineers and scientists. There are many things to do in San Francisco, like go to a city park or visit the beach, but what about entertainment for the mind? San Francisco is home to intellectual and artistic people and many people from all over the world visit to take in sights and at times, culture and history.

San Francisco provides many opportunities for museum lover or seekers of knowledge, culture, and history to indulge. We shall begin this journey in the Golden Gate Park, where you will find several world-class museums. These museums can be accessed off of Lincoln via Martin Luther King Drive or off of Stanyan via John F. Kennedy Drive. Upon entering either of these streets, head west and they will take you directly to museum central and to parking areas.

The museum area forms a quad consisting of the Japanese Tea Gardens, the De Young Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, and Spreckels Temple of Music. Once you arrive, get out your camera, as this is one of the most serene and awe inspiring areas in the entire city. To the west of the museums are the Japanese and Shakespeare Gardens, definitely worth a walk through. You will encounter a small pond with an island in the center next to a Tea House and a splendid Moon or drum bridge. The Japanese Tea Garden is one of the oldest Japanese gardens in the country and was originally apart of the California Mid-winter Exposition in 1894. The Shakespeare Garden is a very popular wedding location. With its many crab apple trees featuring a sundial and romantic brick walkway, it is no wonder why up to five weddings can be booked on a single day in the spring.

Directly next to these gardens are the De Young and Academy of Sciences museums. I would say if you are into ancient history and cultural evolution, the De Young is the place for you. Currently, the De Young is featuring a Tutankhamun and Age of the Pharaohs exhibit. The Academy of Sciences is geared more for lovers of the natural world, both current and prehistoric. It features an aquarium with sharks and other lively fish, a living roof with 1.7 million plants consisting of nine species and seven hillocks that mirror San Francisco’s iconic topography, and a complete fossilized skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

After taking in your fill of culture and nature, how about we go stimulate the senses at the Exploratorium and Palace of Fine Arts. From the Golden Gate Park, head east to Stanyan Street, just a 10 minute walk by John F. Kennedy or Middle Drives. Proceed to Fulton and Stanyan then hop on the 5 until you get to Masonic and Fulton. Transfer to the 43 and take this to Baker and Chestnut, which is just 3 blocks south of the Palace of fine Arts and the Exploratorium.

The Exploratorium is just south of the Marina, and close enough to see the Golden Gate Bridge. However, it is extravagantly beautiful with its winding lagoon that wraps around the Palace and is just outside of the museum. The Exploratorium is best described as an experimental hands-on museum designed to spark curiosity regardless of your age or scientific interests.

Once you are done with this interactive and addictive museum, its time to head to the Civic Center where you can explore one of the largest museums in the western world totally devoted to Asian Art. Simply head down to Baker and Chestnut and board the 30. Head east to Van Ness, than catch the 47 or 49 going south toward Market Street. Get off at Van Ness and McAllister and walk east directly to the museum. This museum is considered your ticket to Asia, where you can traverse 6,000 years of history, trek through 7 major regions, and sample the culture of numerous countries.

If your interests lie in modern art, than San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art (SF MOMA) is just a few blocks away. Simply head east to Hyde from Larking and McAllister than make a right down to Market. Take the Muni or F-Line to Montgomery Station or to 3rd and Market. Head south directly to SF MOMA. This museum exhibits a new roof top garden and strives to engage and inspire a diverse range of audiences by pursuing an innovative program of exhibitions, education, publications, and collections activities. International in scope, while reflecting the distinctive character of our region, the museum explores compelling expressions of visual culture.

Lastly, the tour ends with a smaller yet equally compelling venue. Truly a hidden treasure, the Cartoon Art Museum exhibits pieces that represent the history, contemporary development, creators, design, and processes underlying the art forms of cartoons, comics, digital animation, illustration, and videogames. From SF MOMA, simply head northwest to Mission Street and board the 14 heading southwest to 655 Mission Street.

From editorial cartoons to comic books, graphic novels to anime, Sunday funnies to Saturday morning cartoons, the Cartoon Art Museum has something for everyone. Located downtown in San Francisco’s Yerba Buena cultural district, the museum is home to over 6,000 pieces of original, cartoon and animation art, a comprehensive research library, and five galleries of exhibition space. Whether it’s nostalgic, educational, or just plain fun, a trip to the Cartoon Art Museum will be an experience you will never forget.

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