Best New Arts, Culture and Community Venues in Marin

Every so often new arts, culture or community venues open up, expanding the richness of where we live. Here are the new ones you should know about:

Museum of the American Indian

Intricate handmade dolls of indigenous origin
Photo courtesy of the Museum of the American Indian.

The Museum of the American Indian (MAI) recently reopened, marking over 55 years of preserving and promoting Native American and Indigenous cultures. Situated within the serene landscape of Miwok Park, MAI took the opportunity during the pandemic to revitalize its physical space and enhance its programming. The museum’s renewed commitment to incorporating traditional ecological knowledge reflects its dedication to addressing contemporary issues through the lens of indigenous wisdom.

2200 Novato Blvd, Novato; 415.897.4064

Wayfinder Bookshop

Wayfider Bookshop

Owners Molly Parent and Stephen Sparks, who have owned Point Reyes Books in Point Reyes Station since 2017, brought their love of books to downtown Fairfax in November. Similar to the Pt. Reyes shop, the Fairfax store features a deep selection of nature writing, books about the environment, poetry, and a kids section, which includes many of the couple’s five-year-old and one-year-old children’s favorites. Booksellers (who are great readers) place little notes throughout the store and a small selection of cards, journals, and puzzles is available. “Independent bookstores are thriving as an alternative to the soullessness of the internet algorithm,” Parent says. 

9 Bolinas Rd., Fairfax; 415.295.7318

Pixels Arcade Taproom

Pixel Arcade Taproom Rob Simmos

With a nod to San Rafael’s history as a mecca for several game studios and Lucasfilm, owner and Novato resident Rob Simmons plans to open a true videogame arcade and 21 and over social gathering place in mid-January. Look for around 26 arcade games including Pac Man, Ms. Pac Man, Galaga, Tempest and Donkey Kong, as well as six pinball machines, including Ghostbusters, T2 and Austin Powers and a ‘home gaming lounge’ for multiplayer PlayStation or X Box games. Craft beers and wines will be available from a self-pour beverage kiosk and a menu of arcade-appropriate appetizers and small bites is planned. “It’s all wrapped up in a fun atmosphere complete with 80’s and 90’s kitsch, a wall full of Nagel prints (think of the girl from the Duran Duran ‘Rio’ album cover), festive neon-style LED lighting, and a variety of music from the 80s through today,” Simmons says.

1137 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415.785.3125

Game Fortress

Game Fortress Novato

Brothers and hometown business owners Sean and Kyle Murphy not only had a passion for gaming (“especially Dungeons & Dragons,” says Sean), they wanted to create a spot to serve the community, have fun, and get kids and adults off screens. Their tabletop game space includes board games, trading card games, like Magic the Gathering and Pokémon, role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons, and miniatures games like Warhammer. A gaming space is used for free play and organized events, a rentable room for private gaming events is available and events and tournaments are in the planning stages. Collectible plushies such as Squishmallows and Squishables are also available. Open since late 2022, a grand opening is planned once renovations are completed. 

1205 Grant Ave., Novato; 415.895.1019

Marin Shakespeare Company’s Center for Performing Arts, Education, And Social Justice

After a six year renovation project, a 165-seat indoor theater from Marin’s long-running theater troupe will bring new energy to the former Heller’s for Children Store sometime this spring. Just five blocks from their current stage at Forest Meadows Amphitheatre, which is subject to the elements, the new indoor facility will create something of a cultural corridor through East San Rafael, hosting various new works, plays, musicals, workshops, and community events in this new space. “Our dream is for this center to become a home to Shakespeare for social justice, learning and discovery and a safe space for public gathering,” said Managing Director, Lesley Currier.

514 Fourth St, San Rafael; 415.499.4488.

Anthony Meier Gallery

Anthony Meier Gallery

Anthony Meier, president of the Art Dealers Association of America, relocated his namesake gallery from San Francisco to Mill Valley in late last year. “Having operated out of a residential building in San Francisco for the past four decades, it has always been part of our ethos to go against the grain and have dedicated art-lovers seek us out,” says Meier. The inaugural exhibition, “In the Shadow of Mt. Tam,” runs through March 13 and explores the rich legacy of artists working in Marin County between the 1940s and the 1970s.

21 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley; 415.351.1400

The Image Flow

The Image Flow

After 13 years in Mill Valley where they still reside, owners and founders Stuart and Jacqueline Schwartz moved their gallery and business, which hosts exhibitions and specializes in fine art prints, to downtown San Anselmo. “The Image Flow is all about photography,” says Stuart, who worked as an advertising photographer for over 40 years. The duo also offer photography workshops in a class setting and on location, art reproduction and retouching, and the digitizing of slides, negatives, old movies and video tapes to support family legacies.

328 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, San Anselmo; 415.388.3569.

New In Town

After 39 years in San Francisco spent nurturing the careers of artists such as Janine Antoni, Larry Bell, Sarah Cain, Leonardo Drew and Teresita Fernández, owner Anthony Meier moved his gallery to Mill Valley, the home of business partner Lauren Ryan. Plans are in place to open on January 31 with a kick-off exhibition, “In the Shadow of Mt. Tam,” focusing on Marin County artists from the 1940s through 1970s, including William T. Wiley, Jay DeFeo, Luchita Hurtado, Barbara Solomon and Jess Collins. “The exhibition will explore the rich cultural history of this unique place and serve as an homage to our new gallery home and community in Marin County,” Meier says.

21-23 Throckmorton Ave, Mill Valley; 415.351.1400.

Silverwork Studios

New In Town

Wedged between Chipotle and Peet’s in San Rafael’s Northgate Mall, a jewelry making studio, event space and workshop from Amy Fitzgerald and Kelly Konis opened in late October. The duo, local residents and friends since high school, left the corporate world to bring the experience of making jewelry to their community. Choose from over 35 gemstones to create a ring, bracelet, pendant or pair of earrings in one of their guided workshops.

5800 Northgate Drive, Suite 150, San Rafael; 415.471.7874

Christina Mueller

Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract PublishingSunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her childrens’ schools, and supports the Marin Audubon SocietyPEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.