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Bay Area History Museum

The San Francisco Bay Area History Museum lies at the core of the Mint Project. Galleries will immerse visitors in a vibrant and interactive community, first educating them on key individuals and events in San Francisco’s past and then prompting them to share their own stories and perspectives and to make future predictions based on the insights gained.

Highly immersive and engaging exhibits on the first floor will chronologically detail the region’s key development periods, laying the foundation of understanding of the region’s history to inspire further participation and exploration. Here, individuals and events that contributed to making San Francisco what it is today will be introduced and explained. Content will be provided in multiple layers, offering the right amount of detail to meet the time constraints and various interest levels of each visitor. Gallery topics will include:

Earth, Wind, Fire & Water – presents the "lay of the land", using the four elements to explain the area’s topography and climate and the changes that have occurred since the arrival of man;

Native Americans, Explorers & Settlement – introduces the different settlers who lived and prospered in the Bay area before the Gold Rush brought a storm of people to the region;

Instant City – details the period from 1848 to 1852, when the village of Yerba Buena was transformed into an urban metropolis almost overnight and established patterns of life that have characterized the Bay ever since;

Quake! – tells of the massive destruction and loss of the great 1906 Earthquake and Fire;

Rebirth – focuses on the amazing growth of the region from 1906 to 1915, culminating with the opening of the Pan Pacific International Exposition

Voices of San Francisco – summarizes the personal stories of some of the ordinary people who made extraordinary journeys to find a new life in San Francisco

Works – presents the history of organized labor and the tremendous impact the labor movement had on the rest of the country;

Shaped by War – forms the 2nd Gold Rush for the area with the beginning of the military-industrial complex and the largest shipbuilding port in the history of world;

Capital of the Counterculture – encapsulates how this diverse and dynamic seaport city nurtured an active cultural life with a tradition of rebellious, countercultural activities that have identified the city ever since WWII;

The Third Gold Rush – summarizes how the Bay area laid at the heart of the technological revolution at the end of the 20th Century that changed the way the U.S. and world did everything: shop, communicate, find information, get a job, etc. Once visitors have been introduced to the "who, what, where, when, and why" of the Bay Area's rich history, they will then explore the "how" in the museum's second floor exhibits. Here the museum experience is designed to deliver personal relevancy by asking each visitor to explore how he or she can apply insights from the past to improve their own lives and communities, now and in the future. These exhibits are socially oriented and influenced by hands-on learning and content-based problem solving. Three areas form the central focus of these exhibits:

Storylab – a participatory learning center in which visitors create, curate, and engage directly in the development of interactive stories and exhibits. Here, visitors are encouraged to capture memories, add perspectives, and make their own exhibits relating to the 1st floor galleries and history’s influence on complex issues confronting society today;

Innovations Hall – beginning with the 1st Gold Rush in 1848, San Francisco has been at the center of risk taking and adventure, and this reputation has attracted entrepreneurs and business innovators ever since. This hall celebrates the individuals and their contributions to the region and world across a number of industries during different times;

Prediction Theater – a participatory history game/show in which visitors forecast the next Gold Rush and understand themselves as active agents in the future of history. It encourages visitors to take what they have learned about innovative breakthroughs in history to project future innovations.

If we achieve our educational goals, visitors will exit the museum with a better understanding of the San Francisco Bay Area’s rich history and its direct influence on and importance to society today. This learning will make visitors more informed and equipped to use history to improve their own lives as well as their communities.

Images developed by Christopher Chadbourne and Associates.