The 10 Coolest Niche Museums In San Francisco
The Barbra Streisand Museum may be long gone, but SF has a great tradition of small, neighborhood-focused and niche museums, some zanier than others, dating back to the late 1960's when physicist and sometime cattle rancher Frank Oppenheimer (brother of atomic bomb maker J. Robert Oppenheimer) decided to create a museum in San Francisco devoted to the oddities of science and human perception, which became The Exploratorium. You may want to hit our city's larger cultural institutions when you've got guests in town, but if your guests have more specific interests, you may want to consider some of the odder attractions below.
The Tenderloin Museum
The city's longtime seediest, most rough and tumble neighborhood, The Tenderloin, has also been home over the years to famed jazz clubs, speakeasies, and countercultures, including some of the earliest LGBT hangouts in the city. You'll learn about Wally Heider Studios, the recording studio where the Grateful Dead, Santana, and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young all recorded seminal albums, and check out the rich collection of photographs from the neighborhood. Also, if you want the full experience, the museum offers walking tours. — Jay Barmann
398 Eddy Street at Leavenworth
The SFist To-Do List: 12 Cool Things To Check Out This Week
THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 1
PHOTOGRAPHY SHOW ABOUT ADDICTION: “Exposure: Photographic Tales from the Tenderloin” is the first gallery show from the Tenderloin Health Services-sponsored photography project Snapping Back. The show will display the work of people in various stages of substance abuse and recovery who "were given black and white film cameras and encouraged to explore a number of themes over three months of shooting." Tenderloin Museum, 398 Eddy Street at Leavenworth, 6 to 9 p.m., free
By Evan Karp August 23, 2016
The audio documentary program Arrvls partners with the Tenderloin Museum, Larkin Street Youth Center and the Curry Senior Center to feature residents and community members sharing experiences in the Tenderloin past, present and future. 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 25. Free.
by Randy Shaw on August 16, 2016
Fifty years ago, in August 1966, drag queens, trans sex workers, hair fairies and gay street hustlers rose up against police harassment in what became known at the Compton’s Cafeteria Riot. This occurred at Turk and Taylor Streets in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood, which was then still the geographic center of the city’s GLBT movement. By the end of the decade this center moved west, and in 1976 an increasingly politicized movement formed what is now the Harvey Milk LGBT Democratic Club. The Club celebrated its 40thanniversary last week... [read full article]
Soundwave Intends to Expand Minds with Multisensory Art Experiences
B4bel4b's Tiare Ribeaux talks curating this year's festival in San Francisco.
By Sarah Burke
"....Earlier in the summer, Kevin Corcoran and Jen Boyd explored the festival's theme with "Sonic Portraits of a Shifting City," an experience that took audiences on a tour of the Tenderloin district of San Francisco via AudioBus — an open-air, double-decker bus outfitted with headsets. Riders listened to a sound collage, composed in part of field recordings in open public spaces and of stories from longtime Tenderloin residents (contributed by the Tenderloin Museum), while riding through the neighborhood."[read more]
Soundwave Biennial’s Audiobus Explores The Tenderloin In Its Own Voice
July 26, 2016. Sam Ribakoff
San Francisco in the 21st century is experiencing the tumbleweed-silent steel buildings canyon of the Financial District transition into the always-lively cacophony of the badlands of The Tenderloin.
“The Tenderloin is an area that a lot of people ignore because of it’s reputation as kind of crime ridden,” says Kevin Corcoran, a sound artist living and working in the city, “but I think it warrants at least walking around in The Tenderloin and looking, and hearing, what kind of community exists there.”
What does exist there is a vibrant, poverty stricken, constantly underserved by the city government, section of San Francisco, a place where many new immigrants find themselves, a place where gays, lesbians, and transgender people once found refuge from bigotry, and a place where the most historic buildings in the city are still standing, and still very much in use... Read entire article
The riot that predated Stonewall, 50 years later
June 25, 2016. Ryan Kost
Gene Compton’s Cafeteria, which sat on the corner of Turk and Taylor streets some decades back, was an all-night diner with big windows. It was the sort of place where the waitresses wore crisp uniforms and a cup of coffee didn’t cost more than a dime. It was also bright, and that was fine with the queens and the hustlers and the hair fairies and the queers who would crowd around the tables at night... Read entire article
50th anniversary of Compton’s Cafeteria riot
The GLBT History Museum and the Tenderloin Museum will hold a series of events from July through September to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the riot Highlights include:
A kickoff of the Tenderloin Museum’s “Tenderloin Queer History Walking Tour,” 6-8:30 p.m. July 28. Tenderloin Museum, 398 Eddy St., S.F.
A presentation by Felicia Elizondo on “Cruising the Transgender Tenderloin of the 1960s.” 7 p.m. Aug. 4. GLBT History Museum, 4127 18th St., S.F.
A screening of “Screaming Queens,” 7 p.m. Aug. 18. Roxie Theater, 3117 16th St., S.F. The film is also viewable on demand, and can be purchased, through Amazon.com.
SATURDAY: The Tenderloin Museum Turns One and Commemorates LGBT Rights
July 15, 2016. Peter Lawrence Kane
It's a big month in the T.L. This Saturday, July 16, the plucky Tenderloin Museum will celebrate its first birthday with 11 hours of party time and programming dedicated to the most fascinating, most frequently misunderstood neighborhood in the city. Meanwhile, another major milestone hovers just on the next calendar page: the 50th anniversary of the Compton's Cafeteria Riot, the equivalent of the Boston Tea Party for the LGBT rights movement that occurred three years before the better-known Stonewall riot in Manhattan... Read entire article
This Saturday: Tenderloin Museum Celebrates First Anniversary With Free Community Day
July 11, 2015. Brittany Hopkins
From film screenings to history talks, live performances to art exhibitions, theTenderloin Museum has quickly become a hub for affordable—and often free—events celebrating the neighborhood’s rich history and diverse community.
Program manager Katie Conry attributes the museum's success to building relationships with many of the community’s existing assets, from institutions like the Asian Art Museum to grassroots community arts organizations like Skywatchers. Those partnerships will be showcased this Saturday, July 16th, when entry to the museum will be free of charge to all for the Tenderloin Museum's first-anniversary celebration...Read entire article
Darwin Bell’s ‘Colors of the Tenderloin’ Photo Exhibit Opens
June 30, 2016. By Brock Keeling
Noted San Francisco-based photographer, Darwin Bell, is well known for is hyper-vivid shots of San Francisco signage and beyond. After falling victim to an owner move-in eviction in 2013—his former Alamo Square apartment, where he lived for 20 years, is now an Airbnb rental—he moved to a small studio in the Tenderloin. That's when his camera's scope switched aim.
"The second I moved into my little studio, I knew I was home," Bell, who lives and works in the neighborhood, tells Curbed SF. "I find something new to photograph within every block and a half, every single day."
Colors of the Tenderloin: Photography by Darwin Bell
June 26 2016. By Ivy McNally
A city-dweller for nearly 30 years, photographer Darwin Bell uniquely captures the gritty beauty and forgotten history of San Francisco’s oft-overlooked Tenderloin neighborhood. The museum devoted to preserving that district’s culture is an ideal host to his new exhibition, Colors of the Tenderloin. Pop into this lively opening party for an artful evening featuring live music and refreshments... Read entire article
Kurt Russell Western ‘Bone Tomahawk’ has shot at greatness
May 25, 2016. By G. Allen Johnson
Isaac Julien is being celebrated with a photography exhibit at the Jessica Silverman Gallery, and the Tenderloin Museum is co-presenting “Vintage,” a showing of three short films by the British photographer, installation artist and filmmaker. The reception is set for 6:30 p.m., with a 7 p.m. screening, Thursday, May 26, at the Tenderloin Museum, 398 Eddy St., www.tenderloinmuseum.org. The Jessica Silverman Gallery, 488 Ellis St., is “just 300 feet from the Tenderloin Museum, so be sure to check out the photography exhibition before heading to the screening,” says museum program manager Katie Conry. Good idea... Read entire article
TL Week: Touring The Pre-Vice Tenderloin, Asian Heritage Fair, New Beer Bar & More
May 19, 2016. By Brittany Hopkins
Get ready. A busy weekend is about to kick off in the Tenderloin.
First, if you've ever been curious about the background stories of the many murals painted around the neighborhood, you won't want to miss the Tenderloin Museum's public art exploration tonight. After an optional walking tour, catch a screening of the short film “A Brush with the Tenderloin,” which examines the creation of Golden Gate Avenue mural "Windows into the Tenderloin,” by local artist and activist Mona Caron... Read entire article
Beautiful by Night, Besties, Flaming Groovies, Laether Strip, more
April 7, 2016. By Mark B.
FILM BEAUTIFUL BY NIGHT “James Hosking’s documentary Beautiful by Night follows three older drag entertainers at the legendary Aunt Charlie’s in the Tenderloin over the course of one evening. The film, along with show-stopping drag performances from the three ladies, played to a sold out show at the Tenderloin Museum. Hosking and cinematographer Vanessa Carr will be in attendance and will lead a discussion with subjects Donna Personna, Collette LeGrande and Olivia Hart, who will also dazzle us with not-to-be-missed drag performances... Read entire article
Celebrating an awesomely historic Tenderloin institution at an awesomely historic Tenderloin Institution
April 6, 2016. By Allan Hough
The film is called Beautiful by Night and it is a tribute to Aunt Charlie’s in the Tenderloin, and it’s screening this Thursday night at the Roxie in the Mission. Here’s some detail:
Don’t miss a historic occasion at a historic cinema- this is a one time only chance to see drag performances at the oldest continuously operating movie theater in San Francisco.
The Tenderloin Museum brings James Hosking’s “Beautiful By Night” to the Roxie Theater on April 7th for a one night only special engagement. “Beautiful by Night” follows three older drag entertainers at the legendary Aunt Charlie’s over the course of one evening... Read entire article
Ten Tidbits from Jane Kim's Talk at the Tenderloin Museum
April 5, 2016. By Peter Lawrence Kane
At lunchtime on the first Monday of every month, The Tenderloin Museum hosts a guest speaker. Former Mayor Willie Brown led off the series in March, while yesterday, it was Sup. Jane Kim's turn. In the hour-long discussion (moderated by Randy Shaw, with a Q&A), Kim got into the nitty-gritty of policy specifics while articulating her vision for the Tenderloin — which she represents — in an era of rampant gentrification and change. Here are 10 of the choicest tidbits Kim uttered... Read entire article
Event Spotlight: Aunt Charlie's Veteran Drag Queens Take Over The Roxie
April 4, 2016. By Brittany Hopkins
We'll regularly feature an especially interesting event in the neighborhood based on the event submissions we get, and what we hear about while we're out on the beat.
After 29 years at Turk and Taylor, Aunt Charlie's—the neighborhood's venerable drag bar and lounge—is still going strong. But this Thursday, three of the cabaret's leading ladies are taking their act on the road to a bigger, even more historic venue: the Roxie Theater.
At 7pm April 7th, the Tenderloin Museum is hosting a screening of Beautiful By Night at the Roxie—an encore to its sold-out tribute to Aunt Charlie's at the Tenderloin Museum earlier this winter... Read entire article
The Tenderloin Museum:
A walk down memory lane in the heart of one of San Francisco's most notorious neighborhoods
By Rachel M. Krivichi
The Tenderloin Museum, which opened in June of 2015, is an unlikely slice of culture in one of San Francisco’s best known neighborhoods.
The museum was opened by the Uptown Tenderloin, Inc., and an assortment of dedicated community members who wanted to create a special institution celebrating the history of their neighborhood.
The museum resides in a corner of a single-room occupancy apartment complex called the Cadillac Hotel. Inside, ornate black and burgundy wallpaper adorns the walls, reminiscent of a speakeasy or flapper bar. The look is intentional, as the Tenderloin neighborhood has a scandaloushistory of prohibition, prostitutes, and overall promiscuous behavior. Photographs and newspaper clippings line the walls, and are accompanied by videos and sound clips that help to convey a full sensory history of the neighborhood... Read entire article.
The Tenderloin Museum's Volunteer Fair and Drugs in the Tenderloin Screening
January 4, 2016. By Peter Lawrence Kane
The Tenderloin Museum opened only last summer, but it's been recalibrating the storied neighborhood's position in San Francisco history ever since. While the programming is always top-notch, there is an altruistic arm of the institution as well. Next Wednesday, Jan. 13, the Museum will hold its first Volunteer Fair, connecting patrons with nonprofits such as Project Open Hand, 826 Valencia, the Cooking Project, De Marillac Academy, and Glide Memorial.
Although these organizations are well-known, if pressed, some people might have a difficult time specifying exactly how they help low-income, non-native-born, or otherwise disadvantaged San Franciscans. If you've ever walked down the block, seen somebody suffering, and felt your motivation to help them scaling over with the city-dweller's instinct to just keep on walking, here is a great opportunity to change that ... Read entire article
10 of the Best New Museums
December 21, 2015. By Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett
The downtown Tenderloin neighbourhood has had its problems with crime and poverty, but now a new 3,200 sq ft museum hopes to shift negative perceptions of the area by highlighting the important role it has played in LGBT activism and countercultural movements. The museum also offers walking tours of the area, where your guide will draw attention to historic buildings, gambling dens, legendary bars and places of cultural note.
• tenderloinmuseum.org. Open Tues-Sun 10am-5pm, admission and walking tour $15, general admission $10 adults, children 12 and under free... Read the entire article
Temporal Cities Continues Collecting Stories From Diverse Tenderloin Community
December 1, 2015. By FERNANDO PUJALS
Temporal Cities, the collaborative public art project by Lizzy Brooks and Radka Pulliam, has been collecting Tenderloin stories from an outpost outside the Tenderloin Museum on event nights since October 27th.
Through the project, Brooks and Pulliam are “building a nuanced map that explores the changing nature of the city and our collective ideas of permanence.”
We’ve had the pleasure of observing the project on several occasions. Typically, amid the intermittent rush of cars gliding up Leavenworth different languages echo from the street corners while Brooks and Pulliam sit patiently at a table bedecked with typewriter, papers, clipboards, and a rotary phone... Read entire article
Temporal Cities and CoolTry: Two Sexy Projects at the Tenderloin Museum
November 4, 2015. By Peter Lawrence Kane
The Tenderloin Museum has been burning things down since the day it opened, but between its newest exhibit and its first featured local artist, it’s moving into the realm of contemporary art.
Ryan De La Hoz’s CoolTry gets a turn in the gift shop at a free launch party tomorrow night (Thursday, Nov. 5), with exclusive merch you can’t get anywhere else and music by Wrong Way. (See this Juxtapoz article for a bit of background on De La Hoz’s work.)... Read entire article
RYAN DE LA HOZ'S COOL TRY @ SF'S NEW TENDERLOIN MUSEUM
November 02, 2015
Cool Try is the San Francisco based brainchild of artist Ryan De La Hoz. They produce clothing, skateboards, housewares, and accessories. Ryan will be taking up residence at the newly opened Tenderloin Museum on the corner of Eddy and Leavenworth in San Francisco from November 5th till January 1st and will feature many exclusive items... Read entire article
Museum and tours show a hidden slice of San Francisco
September 8, 2015. By Lee Romney
"Look up! Look up!" Kathy Looper beckoned to the small group embarking on a Tenderloin walking tour here last week. "It's important to look up and not just watch where you're stepping."
This neighborhood is known to many for its homeless and impoverished residents, for single-resident-occupancy hotels and the needles and human waste that litter the sidewalks.
But there is a hidden Tenderloin, with a rich past and a surprising present.
It is that history that the Tenderloin Museum and its walking tours seek to illuminate... Read entire article
There's something remarkable happening in San Francisco's Tenderloin district
August 31, 2015. By Alec Scott
There’s a drama playing out here of a progressive city trying to save its soul.
Concierges in downtown San Francisco hotels have long warned visitors against the Tenderloin – don’t go there, just don’t – which is a shame because there’s something remarkable happening here. New businesses and attractions are opening at a breakneck pace. While the area is still a little rough, there are now schoolchildren on the streets and some money is flowing in, along with something else less tangible bubbling up: local pride of place... Read entire article
Discoveries: S.F.'s Tenderloin Museum presents neighborhood in perspectives
August 29, 2015. By Sam McManis
SAN FRANCISCO --- Take a walk down Eddy Street. Resist the urge to walk fast with head down. Take in the acute, sometimes acrid, sensory details of these city blocks, the beating, arrhythmic heart of the Tenderloin. Be vigilant and streetwise, but don’t succumb to fear, for there is much to see and experience in San Francisco’s most notorious and misunderstood neighborhood.
A stoop-shouldered merchant sweeps the entryway of the Superette 128 market, careful not to disturb a homeless man, and his dog, curled up sleeping nearby. Men linger outside the Herald Hotel, jawing and guffawing and swigging from 40-ouncers. Kids frolic on the swings and jungle gym at verdant Boeddeker Park, the roar of their playful squeals... Read entire article
Don't 'Avoid the Tenderloin': Learn Its History at Neighborhood Museum
August 22, 2015. By Thomas Molanphy
With San Francisco changing at breakneck speed, museums that capture the past are becoming more and more important. As old bars and restaurants are replaced with shiny new ones, there's one neighborhood whose rough-and-tumble past might actually be protecting its future.
As the tech boom transforms San Francisco on an almost hourly basis, the Tenderloin – with over 400 buildings listed in the National Register of Historic Places – remains mostly protected. (A lot of the credit for that goes to the tireless efforts of Randy Shaw, Executive Director of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic.) ...Read entire article
Cutting Ball Theater and the Tenderloin Museum Read Tenderloin
August 13, 2015. By Peter Lawrence Kane
Just as nearby PianoFight has quickly established itself as a major force in Tenderloin nightlife, theTenderloin Museum is already making an indelible mark on the neighborhood’s cultural map. The museum, together with Cutting Ball Theater, will stage a reading of the 2012 play Tenderloin, a documentary theater piece initially commissioned by Cutting Ball.
On Thursday, Sept. 10, actors and co-creators from the original production (including Tristan Cunningham, Siobhan Doherty, and David Sinaiko) will read exerpts from Annie Elias’s work, an aggregation of some 40 interviews conducted with Tenderloin inhabitants. Included are photographer and long-time TL resident Mark Ellinger, Cadillac Hotel owner and activist Kathy Looper, Aunt Charlie’s bartender Colette, a former captain of the SFPD’s Tenderloin precinct, a rep from an organization that provides massage care for the homeless, and someone whose job it is to clean the city’s grittiest streets... Read entire article
Randy Shaw and the new Tenderloin museum. Joe Rosato Jr. reports. (Published Thursday, Aug. 6, 2015)
San Francisco's New Tenderloin Museum: Stories Beyond the Grit
August 6, 2015. By Joe Rosato Jr.
Randy Shaw stood in the center of the Tenderloin museum he’d long pined for. He beamed as he took in the walls of vintage photos, the nooks cloaked in red Victorian wallpaper, and an early flipper-less pinball machine once used for gambling.
Six years prior, Shaw had hatched his vision of a museum devoted to telling the Tenderloin’s long forgotten story - a tale that veered deeper and wider than its current reputation as a drug-infested lair for the down and out.
The Tenderloin museum opened recently in a storefront at the corner of Eddy and Leavenworth in the historic Cadillac Hotel, a residential community for low-income people. Shaw saw past the graffiti-scrawled walls to envision a vessel for the area’s colorful tales... Read entire article
New projects poised to finally reshape S.F.'s gritty Tenderloin neighborhood
August 6, 2015. By Cory Weinberg
The Tenderloin Museum opened last month on the ground floor of the Cadillac Hotel, surrounded on three corners by single-room occupancy hotels that house some of the city’s poorest residents. The museum walls show off black-and-white photos and news clippings about the Tenderloin’s rise and fall – from a thriving entertainment district to one that guidebooks caution tourists to avoid.
Now that the museum has charted the neighborhood’s past, Tenderloin and city leaders are balancing equal parts optimism and angst about its future ... Read entire article
Celebrating the Tenderloin
July 31st 2015. BY B.S.
SAN FRANCISCO was one of several cities dubbed the “Paris of the West” in the early 20th century. The description was inspired by the charms of the Tenderloin district, an area that bustled with commerce and high culture after it avoided the worst of the 1906 earthquake that levelled three-quarters of the city.
From that high point the Tenderloin's reputation foundered, but its vibrancy did not. It became the place where San Francisco’s supposed undesirables—including a century’s worth of immigrants, as well as gay men in the 1950s and transgender women in the 1960s—found refuge in affordable, centrally located housing and a dynamic community. The area takes its name from the days when policemen working the area accepted sufficient bribes to be able to buy the best meat...Read entire article
The Tenderloin Museum Has Ceiling Lights in the Shape of the Tenderloin
July 22, 2015. By Lawrence Kane
The Tenderloin Museum opened last week to much fanfare, highlighting the different strains of social activism and underground culture that have kept the neighborhood at the forefront of San Francisco’s consciousness for more than 100 years: labor struggles, LGBT rights, feminism, sex work, and more.
It’s a small institution, approximately the same size as the GLBT Museum in the Castro, except right off the bat, the programming is dynamic. Tomorrow (Thursday, July 23), the museum will screen an unseen-for-50-years KQED documentary called Drugs in the Tenderloin, with director Robert Zagone doing a Q&A...Read entire article
Tenderloin History Museum exhibits neighborhood’s rich history
July 17, 2015. Molly Martinez
A new museum that opened today beneath the historic single-room occupancy Cadillac Hotel in San Francisco’s Tenderloin District aspires to preserve relics of the neighborhood from bygone eras and share its history of vice, corruption, activism and art.
Situated at the corner of Eddy and Leavenworth streets, the Tenderloin Museum, a project of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, uses old photographs, fliers, posters and newspaper clippings to inform visitors of the neighborhood’s legacy as a place of refuge for new, often misunderstood, ideas...Read entire article
KQED broadcast of the opening of the Tenderloin museum.
A New Museum in a Changing Tenderloin
July 16, 2015. By Jessica Placzek
The museum focuses on the Tenderloin’s influence on counterculture going all the way back to the 1906 earthquake. It has exhibits on the neighborhood’s ties to Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual (LGBT) movements, housing activism and gambling.
“If you wanted to gamble, the Tenderloin was where you came,” Shaw says. “We were the gambling capital of the bay area.” He attributes the fall of the Tenderloin to gambling being outlawed. “After that, we had no economic purpose,” Shaw says.
The museum also offers walking tours of the Tenderloin. Along the way, guides will point out architectural gems, infamous bars and places where historic events occurred, like the location where the Grateful Dead recorded the seminal album American Beauty...Read entire article
New Tenderloin museum celebrates area’s gritty history
July 16, 2015. By Sam Whiting
Dense with sturdy old high-rise rentals, protected SRO hotels and nonprofit landlords, the Tenderloin is San Francisco’s last bulwark against gentrification.
That resistance is worthy of a museum, and one opens at 11 a.m. Thursday, with Mayor Ed Lee presiding over the ceremony.
The Tenderloin Museum, which hugs the corner of Eddy and Leavenworth, in a glass-walled space once held by a Sizzler steak house, tells the ribald story in pictures, postcards, show programs, restaurant menus... Read entire article
New Tenderloin Museum Showcases the Heart of a Forgotten Neighborhood
July 16, 2015. By Marina Smith
The Tenderloin, although sometimes forgotten, glossed over, and avoided, has deep roots in San Francisco's rich history and heritage. The new Tenderloin Museum, opening July 16, celebrates the underbelly of the city and its fascinating, if often unrecognized, history.
Home to countless activists and iconoclasts, the Tenderloin was the birth place of Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and played host to Miles Davis the moment he became a jazz legend at the Black Hawk. It was the geographic center of the burgeoning 1960s LGBT civil rights movement, and has become home to immigrants from all over the world. The new museum seeks to recognize the rippling, vibrant, and gritty reality of the Tenderloin's past and present by telling the story of a community...Read entire article