“It is profound to have in the Tenderloin a museum which will capture the rich and diverse history of the neighborhood and the people who have worked to bring about positive change to the lives of those most marginalized.”
– The Rev. Cecil Williams, of Glide Memorial Church
Mission and History
The Tenderloin Museum's mission is to promote the history and character of the Tenderloin neighborhood by offering educational, artistic, and charitable activities that support the neighborhood's current vibrancy, future potential, and enhanced economic development.
The Tenderloin neighborhood is one of the most misunderstood and maligned in San Francisco, with a rich, complex history that remains undiscovered by most residents. At the same time, the Tenderloin is one of the few affordable places left in the city, home to one of it's highest populations of low and moderate-income people and a diverse "melting pot" of people from around the world.
The Tenderloin Museum was originally founded in 2009 as Uptown Tenderloin, Inc., a nonprofit focused on heightening the public's knowledge and appreciation of the Tenderloin's history. Uptown Tenderloin sponsored the application that created the national Uptown Tenderloin Historic District, which includes 409 buildings on the National Registry of Historic Places. Uptown Tenderloin also led the effort to install nearly 100 historic plaques on Tenderloin buildings, and nine “Lost Landmark” sidewalk plaques. The organization also worked with Academy of Art University to create and install murals reflecting Tenderloin history on the PG&E substation at Eddy and Hyde Streets. A permanent museum built to honor the neighborhood was the next logical step, and a capstone to this broader effort to gain the recognition the Tenderloin deserves.
After many years of planning and community input, the Tenderloin Museum opened its doors to the public in 2015. We're grateful to have been received with open arms by our community- over 2,500 people visited the museum in its opening months, including 40 school groups, and weekly public programs have been frequently sold out. We also host more than 100 walking tours each year led by neighborhood residents. The quality of our offerings has been recognized both internationally, as one of the Ten Best New Museums in the World by The Guardian UK, and locally, by the San Francisco Chronicle, KQED, SF Weekly, SFist and others.
Together, we strive for a more profound understanding of the history of the Tenderloin, work to re-imagine our collective future, and support our neighborhood. Donate or become a member today to join our community!
To learn more about our impact, check out our annual year-in-review.
Board of Directors
Kathy Looper, Board President