Museums in Downtown

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Comparisons to New York City's top galleries quickly arose around Verge Center for the Arts when Jesse Powell opened the nonprofit in 2009. It's easy to see why: the 6,000 square feet of exhibition space and 20-foot high ceilings houses a global array of contemporary art in various mediums, from paint and video to performance. But opening a critically acclaimed gallery was only the tip of the iceberg for Jesse.

These days, the 22,000-square-foot center houses 37 studios for emergent artists, more than half of which were built by the tenants/artists themselves. Reading materials on contemporary art abound in the center's library, while an in-house lab lets community members create their own prints. Throughout the year, Verge even hosts events and classes that run the gamut from artists lectures to workshops on learning to draw via mind control.

625 S St
Sacramento,
CA
US

Since joining the Union in 1850, California has supplied more citizens to the nation's common defense than any other state. The California State Military Museum celebrates that long tradition of service, standing as a reminder to future generations of the sacrifices made by those men and women.

Inside, more than 33,000 artifacts weave together an inspiring timeline, telling the tales of military icons such as William T. Sherman, Henry Halleck, and General George Patton. These men live on inside a number of exhibits that detail California's connection to historic events including the Civil War and World Wars I and II. During visits, guests can browse these displays, yell "medic!" for no reason, and pop into the image library, which is packed with black-and-white photographs as well as digital treasures.

1119 2nd St
Sacramento,
CA
US

Behind the Victorian columns of Crocker Art Museum?s 126-year-old gallery building, ornate chambers house works that span six continents and several centuries. Established in 1885, it remains the first art museum in the Western United States, boasting collections that pay homage to the region?s cultural lineage with a robust Californian collection.

The museum updated its look and tripled both its exhibit space and running time for games of hide-and-seek in 2010 with the addition of the Teel Family Pavilion, a 125,000-square-foot building that boasts geometric designs and sunlit rooms. The expanded gallery furthers the museum?s mission to function as a community hub by hosting Art Mix, social events that feature live music, djs and a cash bar on the 2nd Thursday of every month. Studio-art classes keep adults informed, and children?s programs inspire young artists to commit their creativity to canvas, rather than living-room walls or ephemeral Mr. Potato Heads.

216 O St
Sacramento,
CA
US

Each April, a tear in the space-time continuum opens up along the Sacramento River. Through it rolls a first-class locomotive right out of the 1940s and 50s. For 45 minutes, passengers in the train's coach and luxury first class car soak in the sights of California's fruit-growing deltas as the vintage diesel engine carries them into another time.

The California State Railroad Museum conducts these scenic, historic train rides. The excursions play a crucial role in the museum's mission to chronicle California's railroad history from the early days of the Gold Rush to modern agricultural transports and the proposed railroad to Mars. Spanning centuries, 21 restored locomotives and train cars blanket the museum's 225,000 square feet of exhibit space. A Pullman-style sleeping car and a dining car filled with fine china both sit on display, while the museum's Sierra Scene places a vintage steam locomotive next to a breathtaking mural of snow-dusted mountains. The popular Small Wonders: The Magic of Toy Trains exhibit currently commands the second floor, and with hundreds of examples of early electric toy trains and accessories such as stations, signals, tunnels, and bridges, it should delight even the most discerning miniature conductor.

125 I Street
Sacramento,
CA
US

The Sacramento History Museum recounts the narrative of Sacramento through insightful exhibitions of antiquities and accompanying anecdotes. The current offering of Gold, Greed & Speculation: The Beginnings of Sacramento City tells the tale of Sacramento’s first 50 years, delving into the birth of a city with a story much more complex than modern gold miners would have us believe. Headlining this exhibit is an interactive, computer-augmented mural, as well as more than $1 million worth of gold specimens, including a golden replica of an Olympic bronze medal that secretly contains chocolate. For a broader perspective of Sacramento, check out the Community Gallery, a chronological re-telling of events and traditions from the relics of the Nisenan and Maidu Native Americans to artifacts from modernity, such as objects and accounts from the city during World War II. The Agricultural Gallery shows how ingenious innovations in farming technology sprang from the fertile fields of the Central Valley, much like birds springing from a recently smashed cuckoo clock.

101 I St
Sacramento,
CA
US

With an arsenal of informative magazines, elegant photographs, and illuminating documentaries, National Geographic has inspired planetary responsibility and natural wonderment for more than 120 years. Their latest filmed adventure, The Last Lions, ushers viewers into the wetlands of Botswana's Okavango Delta, where a lioness named Ma di Tau and her cubs fight for their survival. From fleeing raging fires and cub-killing rival prides to wading through crocodile-infested rivers and the supermarket at rush hour, this family suffers perils that leave audiences touched and awestruck. Crafted by award-winning filmmakers, Dereck and Beverly Joubert, and narrated by Jeremy Irons, The Last Lions aims to raise awareness of dwindling big-cat populations while sharing a compelling story of hope. The film is rated PG for depictions of the food-chain cycle without the accompaniment of an Elton John song.

2508 Land Park Drive
Sacramento,
CA
US