Marin Blog · Marin Arts and Culture Collection

Learn Something New at Marin's Museums

Posted in Blogging Marin on Thursday, November 10, 2022 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 museums, and 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 WWll fighter pilots, here are just a few of the museums ready to expand 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.


The Bolinas Museum

The Bolinas Museum’s fine art collection includes art made in or about coastal Marin as well as selected works by Bay Area artists who have been included in Bolinas Museum exhibitions or have inspired the local creative community. Works range from historical landscape paintings from the late 19th century to contemporary sculpture, photography, and graphic arts. There is always a rotating selection of the collection on view in the Permanent Collection Gallery.

What is also interesting is the Museum’s complex of historic buildings. It is also a stage for the visitor’s experience. These buildings have their own stories dating back to the late 1800s when Bolinas was a little town growing around its waterfront with an economy that was, until 1933, dependent on busy schooner traffic between Bolinas and the markets of San Francisco.


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.


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.


Marin History Museum

In its 80+ years, the Marin History Museum has amassed a collection of some ​​​​​20,000 artifacts, 200,000 historic photographs, and volumes of county scholarship, oral history, and only-in-Marin curiosities. The Museum’s collection is central to its many public programs including exhibits, lectures, walks and classroom activities. The collection is also a critical resource for historians, students, and other researchers. You are welcome to search the thousands of photographs that have already been digitized here or you can make an appointment to come into the museum and search through the original materials.


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. 


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.


For all you need to plan your Marin County vacation, visit the Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website or Facebook page.