Posted in Blogging Marin on Monday, October 15, 2018 by MCVB Staff
By Joe Kukura
The wilder side of American museums is on permanent display just north of San Francisco in Marin County. Its museums are an eclectic collection of tributes to Northern California’s influence on American life today, and the role it played in years and centuries past.
When you plan your Marin County weekend getaway or California staycation, the history buff in you will want to set aside time for Marin’s best museums for a fascinating walk through the California of yesteryear and today.
Whether you dig the California outdoors, extreme sports, Native American culture, contemporary art or the exploration of outer space, here are just a few of the museums ready to blow your mind with artifacts and historical facts on an unforgettable Northern California detour.
Marin Museum of Bicycling and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame
Marin County happens to be the birthplace of mountain biking, so Fairfax’s Marin Museum of Bicycling and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame is the perfect home to a permanent shrine to the cult-hit hobby and sport. Get a firsthand look at Marin County’s earliest Gold Rush-era bikes, and see the history of the invention of mountain biking that led to a worldwide craze. Actually biking in Marin County afterward is highly encouraged.
Bay Area Discovery Museum
California’s coolest family attraction is hiding right at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Bay Area Discovery Museum, a super-charged, one-of-a-kind museum for kids, will also dazzle parents with its picturesque coastal photo opportunities. With an emphasis on creativity and play, the museum features hands-on art and science exhibitions, performances, and special events on its 7.5-acre campus.
Marin Museum of Contemporary Art
The Marin Museum of Contemporary Art (MarinMOCA) presents a constant stream of the latest from Marin County’s top artists, following in the footsteps of Ansel Adams and other leading creators. Working studios provide space for over 50 artists, contributing to the atmosphere of creative energy in this unique Marin County place. Be sure to visit the MarinMOCA Museum Store to take home some keepsakes of this thriving arts scene.
Novato History Museum and Hamilton Field History Museum
Nestled in an 1850 postmaster’s house, the Novato History Museum brings that city’s centuries of quirky and fascinating contributions to light. Admission is always free, and open to the public Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m., or by appointment.
Hamilton Air Force Base was one of the United States’ most important Air Force facilities during World War II, and is now home to the Hamilton Field History Museum, which serves as an homage to that legacy. Located in the base’s Novato firehouse, the museum is open Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for an incredible recreation of fighter pilot life from the 1930s through the 1970s.
Marin Museum of the American Indian
The Coast Miwok Indians were Marin County’s first people, and the Marin Museum of the American Indian presents the most accurate and respectful account of who they are and what they have accomplished. The museum’s permanent collection includes over 2,000 cultural items, including Southwestern pottery and Plains Indians headdresses, from all over the U.S. Located on the site where an actual Miwok village once stood, this Native American exhibit is open Fridays through Sundays.
Space Station Museum
Novato’s Space Station Museum is one of the largest collections of historical artifacts from the early space exploration era, with a stunning constellation of exhibits that show how Northern California’s earliest space satellites are still flying high today. A full-size replica of the Lunar Module and Lunar Rover in the Apollo Moon Landing exhibit will excite kids of all ages, and bring back memories of the golden age for some.
Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History
The Jack Mason Museum of West Marin History is located within the Inverness Public Library and is an eclectic collection of the myriad histories of Point Reyes, Tomales Bay and the Olema Valley. The permanent collection includes fascinating archival materials--photographs, genealogies, oral histories, letters and diaries--that bring to life the rich history of West Marin.
Your Marin County museum-hopping experience awaits, and there are plenty of places to stay and restaurants to top off your explorations. So plan your next San Francisco Bay Area getaway in Marin County, where Northern California truly makes an exhibition of itself.