As a Bay Area native, I grew up going on field trips to various museums around the area, and I have fond memories of the different school projects I worked on inspired by these museum visits. Now, as a college student, I have found myself eager to return to these sites that always sparked wonder and curiosity, as well as to visit new ones. There is really nothing better than taking a Sunday afternoon to explore a museum with a few friends, which is why I compiled this handy list.
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
I visited this one a few years ago, and I’ve been meaning to go back ever since. The Asian Art Museum is home to more than 18,000 works of art, and some are as ancient as 6,000 years old, according to their website. I’m personally fascinated by ancient Chinese art and pottery in particular, and it blows my mind that there are intact vases from thousands of years ago that are as visually appealing and as thought-provoking to me just as they were to the people of their original time period. Taking a second to appreciate the longevity of humanity and human expression is truly something special, and there’s nowhere better to do that than this museum.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
In contrast to the aforementioned museum, the SFMoMA, as it is colloquially referred to, is chock-full of stunning and entrancing modern art. While I am personally not a fan of abstract art (which is commonly found in modern art), I don’t find that a problem whenever I visit. This is probably the one I’ve been to the most on this list because I love seeing all the new exhibits and revisiting the old ones. It’s also my favorite one to go to with friends and family because it has something for everyone! It does get bonus points for its thoughtfully curated gift shop, too.
de Young Museum
The de Young is a fine arts museum also located in San Francisco and houses American art from the 17th century to the present, as well as a variety of other international contemporary pieces. I have visited this one quite a few times with friends and family as well — my absolute favorite exhibit was a pop-up exhibition by American artist Kehinde Wiley, “An Archeology of Silence,” that addressed and expressed systematic violence against Black people. I even went back within the same month because I wanted to show it to my parents. Nonetheless, I’m eager to go back soon to see some of the other pop-up exhibits that come and go!
Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive
BAMPFA is a classic: I went there last fall semester with my GBO group, and I’m coincidentally returning next week for a field trip for my history class. It’s so cool to me to think that there are so many incredible cultural artifacts — more than 25,000 works of art, in fact — housed right next to our campus! I also love museums that feature film as I think it is such a unique and invigorating medium of art. As a Berkeley student, I believe that we are all basically required to pay the BAMPFA a visit at least once during our time here, if not once a year.
California Academy of Sciences
This one is a classic, and I thought it to be only fitting to end on this note. I have so many memories of visiting this museum in grade school — even during high school, I did a project on an exhibit of my choice. If you couldn’t tell, I’m more of an art museum than a science museum type of person, but some of the exhibits absolutely blow my mind when I see them. It’s so fascinating to read about the inner workings and mechanics of the various gadgets that this museum houses — definitely a must-visit in the Bay Area!
Writing this article has made me realize just how much I love visiting museums, and it reminds me of the awe I feel every time I step into an institution such as the ones listed above. Museums offer us a wonderful chance to take a breath of air amidst our busy lives as students and people and to reflect on the beauty and emotions that make up our existence. I hope this article will inspire you (as it has me) to pay your local museums a visit sometime soon!