Nestled in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Bay Area Discovery Museum draws children's inquiring minds with a host of exhibits modeled after the surrounding sea and city. The Wave Workshop lets kids explore the San Francisco Bay's ecology and test their own boat designs against simulated wind and waves. In the 2.5-acre Lookout Cove which overlooks the bay itself, a 23-foot-tall Golden Gate Bridge entices children to put on hardhats and help construct a giant model.
Sausalito Picture Framing's team of meticulous artisans harnesses more than 20 years of experience when customizing borders to flatter and conserve artwork of all sizes and types. The quaint storefront's walls showcase multitudinous molding samples, waiting patiently to grace the edges of paintings, tapestries, and blue ribbons from hot-dog-eating contests. A library of image-preserving mounting options includes acid-free matting, archival hinging tape, and UV-shunning glass, helping keep keepsakes' colors vibrant for years to come. The shop also hosts a 44-inch Epson 9800 Ultrachrome K3 inks printer, capable of printing family portraits in such high quality that parents often realize their twins aren't identical at all.
A nonprofit organization dedicated to the celebration of the art, history, and science of pinball, the Pacific Pinball Museum welcomes hardcore enthusiasts and casual fans alike to learn about and play the popular game. Over 85 operational machines—all set to free play—line the walls of the museum, including electro-mechanical, wood-rail, and wedgehead models, as well as the newest digital machines. Along with historic games on display, such as an 1879 Montague Redgrave Parlor Bagatelle and a Gottlieb 1931 Baffle Ball, three playable clear cabinets reveal the inner workings of the engineering marvel, from the wires feeding the lights to the tiny steelsmiths forging new balls between every play. Enthusiastic guides conduct regular tours of the facilities, whose walls feature hand-painted murals celebrating the game’s diverse colors and symbols.
Art Works Downtown's story begins about seven years before its founding. Back in the early '90s—when local businesses started closing down en masse—Phyllis Thelen got an idea. Rather than let Fourth Street go to shambles, the cultural-affairs advocate filled empty store windows with artwork to make them more attractive to passersby and bored security-camera monitors. That's when she discovered the building that would become Art Works Downtown, located on Fourth Street. Built in 1878, it was once known as Gordon's Opera House. Phyllis just knew this rundown yet beautiful building would make the perfect art center. So she and four peers founded the Art Works Downtown nonprofit organization and set to work remaking the 40,000-square-foot space into a community jewel.
They started by remodeling 13 rooms, turning them into studios for local artists to rent, and eventually opening a storefront gallery to showcase their work. Nowadays, Art Works Downtown strives to keep the heart of the area's art scene beating. The center houses 35 art studios for rent, three galleries, a café, a jewelers guild, a frame shop, a ceramic center, other arts organization, and 17 affordable apartments that help professional artists keep working. Aspiring artists of all ages, meanwhile, can attend classes, and art lovers can find inspiration by visiting constantly changing exhibits in four galleries.
A work of art relies on many components to maintain its integrity. Aside from the canvas and the struggle the artist went through to get Billy to stop hogging all the blue paint, the piece will require a frame to be respected as a finished product. At Ringseis Designs, the framing crew works with custom mouldings and archival techniques to protect and enhance artwork, analyzing each piece before selecting matting and frame combinations that draw attention to intended focal points. They also protect 3-D objects, protecting keepsakes in shadowboxes and preserving sports jerseys in textile cases.
The Golden State Model Railroad Museum brings the nation’s bygone steam-powered days back to life in miniature form, recreating the trails run by the Southern Pacific and Santa Fe Railroads. Trains snake through three huge model layouts, which depict the varied terrain of Northern and Central California lovingly recreated and operated by the East Bay Model Engineers Society. Sundays in April–December from noon to 5 p.m., some of the 70 behind-the-scenes conductors imbue the tracks with energy, transforming the 10,000-square-foot facility into a locomotive wonderland alight with the sounds of bells and whistles not heard since the days when phone numbers only had three digits. The museum is also open on Wednesdays and Saturdays for viewings or on select days for themed events such as Amtrak Day or Steam/Transition Era Day.