Some places have perfected the art of exhibiting Marin County history and are here to share with you the secrets they’ve uncovered. Whether you want a glimpse of the past or to see the art of the present, these places have you covered. The 2023 readers’ choice Best of the County winner is the Marin Museum of Contemporary Art (pictured above). For the rest of the Marin Magazine‘s Best of Marin County Museum picks see below.
Our 2023 Arts & Entertainment category sponsor is Gene Hiller.
We’ve broken it down by region: Southern, Central, Northern, and Western Marin.
Although the extensive train lines are no longer running, with the last train having left the Tiburon station in 1967, the history that was left behind is far from gone. Nestled right up on the shore, this beautifully restored building contains detailed models of Tiburon’s old rail town and exhibits of what was once the stationmaster’s home. Hours are Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday 1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
1920 Paradise Dr, Tiburon, 415.435.1853
Fairfax is the heart of a bustling area of bicycling culture, and nowhere better exemplifies that tradition than the Marin Museum of Bicycling. Founded by a team of dedicated bicycle enthusiasts, this educational nonprofit is volunteer-run by passionate cyclists who want to share their love of cycling with the county. Hours are Thursday through Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
1966 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Fairfax, 415.450.8000
Along the shores of San Pablo Bay lies China Camp Park, offering stunning waterfront views, meadow and oak habitats and all manner of wildlife. The museum here describes an early Chinese settlement and offers tours and field trips for those looking to learn their history while wandering through the gorgeous environment. Hours are Monday through Sunday 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
China Camp Village Rd, San Rafael, 415.456.0766
In 1935, the Marin History Museum opened its doors. Since then it has amassed a stunning collection of over 20,000 artifacts and 200,000 historical photographs, to say nothing of all the other Marin-specific treasures that can be found within its halls. Any scholar looking to study this county is eager for a closer look at everything that this museum has on display. Hours are Wednesday through Friday 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
1125 B St, San Rafael, 415.382.1182
This one-of-a-kind museum is easy to miss if you’re driving through, but its unique displays and fascinating dissections of propaganda make it more than worth a stop. Political art has never been more cleverly displayed than here. Hours are Thursday and Friday 3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
1000 Fifth Ave, San Rafael, 415.526.3057
With its constantly changing exhibits and displays, it’s no wonder that Marin MOCA is always drawing in a crowd. It boasts multiple different galleries that host everything from student exhibits to educational programs to big names in the art world. Additionally, many artists have made their homes in one of the dozens of studios available to rent. Hours are Wednesday through Friday 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
500 Palm Dr, Novato, 415.506.0137
For over 50 years, the Miwok Museum has been dedicated to uplifting and honoring Native American cultures. Along with being a destination for scholars and the general public, it’s also an excellent place for school trips and, as an additional bonus, qualifies as a Social Studies class for those students.
2200 Novato Blvd, Novato, 415.897.4064
Staffed by volunteers from the Novato Historical Guild, this museum is focused on the history of Novato, starting all the way back in the early 1800s. For those that are too rushed or too far away to go in person, the museum also publishes a quarterly newsletter. Hours are Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
815 De Long Ave, Novato, 415.897.4320
A coastal art museum like no other, the Bolinas Museum is all about community outreach and environmental education. Their art programs, geared towards elementary school students, inspire kids’ curiosity towards the area they live in through artistic mediums and creative approaches, a much more effective way to get them interested in the bay than an hour sitting behind a desk. Hours are Friday and Saturday 1 p.m. – 5 p.m., Sunday 12 p.m. – 5 p.m.
48 Wharf Rd, Bolinas, 415.868.0330