7 Best Museum in California 2024

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California has always had a large number of museums, dedicated to various fields of human endeavor. Not many of them can compete with the museums on the East Coast or those in Europe, but still, they are worth a visit, if you can spare the time. Here are our recommendations for the seven museums you must see in California in 2019.

1. M. H. de Young Memorial Museum

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M. H. de Young Memorial Museum, or simply de Young, is a fine art museum located in San Francisco. It was named after its founder, early San Francisco newspaperman M. H. de Young. The museum was established in 1895 and it displays American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries, as well as international contemporary art. The museum building was designed by architects Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron and Fong + Chan and is placed in beautiful surroundings of Golden Gate Park. Together with Legion of Honor, it is a part of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

2. Legion of Honor

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The Legion of Honor museum is the second half of Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Built in a neoclassical style and modeled after Palais de la Légion d’Honneur in Paris, the building that houses the museum is worth seeing alone. Inside, you will find four millennia of human history, from ancient art from the Mediterranean to modern European art. The museum offers guided or audio tours. It boasts some 124,000 works, including sculptures, paintings, and paper art. Once inside, make sure to see an original cast of Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ and the flawlessly restored Salon Doré of the Hôtel de la Trémoille.

3. USS Midway Museum

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USS Midway (CV-41) is the longest-serving vessel in the United States Navy in the 20th century. She was decommissioned in 2006 and transformed into a museum, docked in San Diego. The float5ing city is commemorating both the service of USS Midway and her crew (some 225,000 crew members have served on her during her 46 years of service) and the Battle of Midway. It offers an interactive exhibition that will guide through all phases of this important American victory in Pacific. On the deck of Midway, you can see 29 restored historical airplanes and take a spin in a flight simulator used to train pilots.

4. Computer History Museum

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Dealing with the history of the digital age, Computer History Museum was established in 1996, in Mountain View, California. The idea is much older though, dating back to 1968 when Gordon Bell and others were looking to preserve some of the first digital artifacts, like the Whirlwind computer. The museum claims to be the largest computer history museum in the world, containing more than 90,000 artifacts in various forms. Their exhibit “Revolution: The First 2000 Years of Computing,”, opened in 2011, covers the entire history of computing, from the first abacus to the supercomputers. Since 2010, the museum is also collecting important pieces of source code for various software.

5. Palm Springs Air Museum

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According to CNN, Palm Springs Air Museum is one of the top 14 Air Museums in the World. The museum is focused mostly on World War 2 combat aircraft, although there are some jet aircraft as well, like McDonnell Douglas F-4S Phantom II, F/A-18, North American F-100D Super Sabre, and others. Their collection of World War 2 aircraft is among the largest in the world and is often used by Hollywood producers when filming war movies.

6. Asian Art Museum or Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture

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Asian Art Museum or Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture houses one of the most comprehensive collections of Asian art in the world. The museum boasts some 18,000 artworks in the form of porcelain, bronze, paintings and massive sculptures. Some of the pieces in the collection are 6,000 years old.

7. California State Railroad Museum

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California State Railroad Museum is widely regarded as one of the best railroad museums in the world. It has 21 restored locomotives and railroad car, with the oldest from 1862. The museum is located in Sacramento, and the integral part of the exhibition is a fully restored 1870’s-era Central Pacific Railroad passenger station. Between April and October, the museum offers a 40-minute roundtrip along the Sacramento River.