Specialized Bay Area Museums Offer Unique Attractions

USS Pampanito
If you are ever walking around Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, make sure to check out the USS Pampanito. This submarine from World War II is considered a historic landmark, and can be found at Pier 45. Although its architecture and contents do not resemble those of a typical museum, it provides the most authentic look into the past of the U.S. naval forces. The Maritime Park Association owns and takes care of the vessel with great tenacity. Many of the USS Pampanito’s original parts were lost over time, but the vast majority of those parts have been replaced and refurbished by the Maritime Park Association to provide an adequate and up-to-date experience of a World War II submarine.
Every bit of the vessel can be visited in the official tour, including the main deck, the torpedo room, the engine and the control room. Submarine-qualified docents provide insightful accounts the USS Pampanito’s WWII history and share personal sea stories, while more independent visitors can take the self-guided audio tour. Those who are especially fond of the museum can stay there overnight with groups of friends, and enjoy an interesting experience that brings together the excitement of San Francisco and the history behind a World War II relic.

Yet another San Francisco museum to hit is the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA) at Yerba Buena Gardens. Mario Botta’s creation first opened in 1995, and has become a symbol of San Francisco ever since. With its variety of travelling exhibits and bold art, SFMOMA accurately captures the essence of everything contemporary. Upon walking into the museum, visitors are greeted with four levels of art in a skylit, breathable space.
SFMOMA is currently coordinating with the architectural firm Snøhetta in order to create a 10-story building that will accommodate the growing collection of art. The new Doris and Donald Fisher Collection is a symbol of the art museum’s ongoing expansion. By creating a partnership with the Fisher family, SFMOMA has been able to get a hold of a private, art collection that has been growing since the 1970s. Viewers can get a taste of pop art, figurative art, minimalism, abstraction and more art from various eras.
While you are visiting, do not forget to visit the rooftop sculpture garden. It provides a breathtaking view of the San Francisco skyline, especially at night. The garden effectively integrates a great cityscape view with a variety of sculptures This view will be even better when the museum adds multiple stories. Unfortunately, in order to construct the new building, SFMOMA will have to close on June 2, 2013, and reopen in 2016 so make sure to drop by before then.

Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia
We all love candy, and we all love our favorite childhood characters. At the Burlingame Museum of Pez Memorabilia, these two of our favorite wonders come together. The Pez museum opened in 1995, and is run by Pez collectors, Gary and Nancy Doss. The museum also boasts an example of every Pez dispenser ever sold.
From Tweetie Bird to Batman, these Pez dispensers are placed in rows accordingly based on their family of origin. The museums holds collections from Disney to Marvel, Looney Tunes and many others. The fascinating aspect of the collections is how accurately the characters are portrayed in just a small candy container. The characters’ features are sharply defined, and remind us of memorable traits of each figure. Admission is only $3 for adults and $1 for children and for the amount of fun and free candy samples the museum has to offer, the admission rates are generous.

California Surf Museum
The California Surf museum holds our state’s entire history of surf and tide. The museum has records, documents, boards and memorabilia from decades of surf history. One of the most interesting collections is a historical collection of the origin of surfboards, dating back from wooden to fiberglass structures. Hundreds of boards are exhibited, showing the development of board technology and the new introductions such as the “shortboard revolution.” Along with a large collection of boards, the museum also holds records of surf legends over the years. The collection includes record times, documentation and plaques that date back over 30 years. For anyone who has a passion for surfing, the museum truly boasts itself as the “Hall of Fame” of surfing.
The museum not only has surfing exhibitions, but also has collections of longboarding exhibits. Currently, the museum is featuring a “Need for Speed” downhill skateboarding exhibit, which shows innovations in boarding equipment. The main features of this exhibit are the art of downhill longboarding and the development of streamline speed skating. This part of the museum serves as an attraction for all “ground surfers” and even has some of the most impressive longboards for sale.