Now that 2019 has settled in, local museums around the Bay have started announcing their lineup of pretty exciting exhibits for the whole family. From one that lets you “ride a Harley” to one that digs deep into how we share photographs, the Bay Area’s got some pretty cool exhibits that’ll make an afternoon well spent. Scroll through our picks, then open up your calendars to block out some time to check them out!

photo: SF MOMA

snap+share: transmitting photographs from mail art to social networks – SF MOMA

With social media playing such a huge role in our daily lives, this exhibit explores how we share pictures on social media, instead of the more traditional, inward act of taking and sharing photographs. Through the history of the medium. the show takes a look at our current social media environment and how much it’s grown. Fully interactive, the exhibit will present playful works involving Internet memes with a working freezer for visitors to join in contemporary meme-making, making it a fun exhibit to explore for kids and adults. 

When: March 30-August 4, 2019


photo: CuriOdyssey

STEM Odyssey - CuriOdyssey Science Playground and Zoo

Be amazed and astounded by the fun of math art at CuriOdyssey’s STEM Odyssey. Navigate through an oversized floor maze and design a maze of your own. Experience the beauty of mathematical structures in a space defined by catenary arches, geodesic domes and suspended polyhedral sculptures. Play S.T.E.M. games and solve intriguing, interactive puzzles. Watch entertaining math-themed short films in a cinema arts space. Ignite a lifelong passion for science, technology, engineering, art and math in your child and in yourself at STEM Odyssey!

CuriOdyssey Science Playground and Zoo
When: March 29-May 27, 2019

Hands-On Harley-Davidson™ - Bay Area Discovery Museum

This new traveling exhibit is all about STEM and the art of motorcycle maintenance. Little easy riders and their families will have fun exploring a replica motorcycle dealership, designing test runs in an engineering lab and learning more about what makes Harley-Davidson America's most iconic motorcycle. From helmet design, to custom bike detailing, to a (simulated) test ride on a kid-sized motorcycle, this exhibit is all about creating the ultimate riding experience. 

Bay Area Discovery Museum 
When: Opens January 19, 2019

photo: New Museum of Los Gatos

Warren Chang: Voice of the Fields – New Museum of Los Gatos

An authentic and honest look at the somewhat ordinary life of farmworkers in Salinas Valley, the exhibition by Monterey artist Warren Chang showcases his large-scale luminous paintings of the humble community. Chang was born and raised in Monterey and California’s agricultural environment is part of his daily life. Influenced by the John Steinbeck tales of his youth, Warren was drawn to field workers as subjects for his recent series of paintings. Be sure to check out the Warren Chang: In the Artist Studio where visitors can get an intro to his work, creative process and life as an artist.

New Museum of Los Gatos 
When: February 22-June 16, 2019

photo: Children's Museum of San Jose

Voyage to Vietnam: Celebrating the Tet Festival – Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose

After a two-year national tour, visitors can experience the beauty, sights and sounds of Vietnam through its most important celebration of the year, Tet.  Showcasing traditions, customs and values exemplified by Tet, families can see the similarities and differences between their lives in the United States and the lives of children and families in Vietnam. Kids can try on a giant lion dance mask, pick traditional flowers and faux food items to prepare for the festivities, pose for a family photo by dressing up in customary Ao Dai and create a digital fireworks display to signal the coming of the New Year.

Children’s Discovery Museum of San Jose 
When: Now through May 12, 2019

photo: SF MOMA

The Sea Ranch: Architecture, Environment and Idealism – SF MOMA

Designed as a modern model community combining affordable living and amazing architecture, The Sea Ranch was all about “living lightly on the land". This unique exhibition features archival and contemporary photographs, original drawings and sketches from the projects designers, as well as a full-scale replica so visitors can experience first hand what it was like to live in such a place that encouraged indoor-outdoor living and communal open space.

When: Now through April 28, 2019

photo: Walt Disney Family Museum

Mickey Mouse: From Walt to the World - Walt Disney Family Museum

A celebration of animation’s most recognizable character, the exhibit chronicles Mickey’s influence on art and entertainment over the past nine decades. It tells the story of his origin, rise to fame and world-wide appeal in relation of Walt Disney’s inspiring story. Featuring more than 400 objects including never-before-seen original sketches, character model sheets, concept artwork, vintage photographs and a variety of animated short films, it’s one that all families no matter the age will enjoy.

Walt Disney Family Museum 
: May 16-January 6, 2020

photo: de Young Museum

Monet: The Late Years – de Young Museum

Exploring Monet’s final years, the exhibition shows how the artist reinvented his style of painting, producing increasingly abstract work with bold color combos. The first exploration of this artistic period in over 20 years assembles works from major public and private collections in Europe, the United States and Asia. More than 20 of Monet’s beloved water lily paintings, large-scale murals and late easel paintings will be on view.

Be sure to check out the de Youngsters Studio as well. Located in an area of the de Young that is free and open to the public, the studio is open to children of all ages with activities specifically designed for exploration, curiosity and discovery. Think touch sensors that allow for color mixing on a wall-like surface, or cameras that let kids virtually place their creations within images of the museum galleries using AR interface within the studio.

de Young Museum 
When: February 16-May 27, 2019

photo: Oakland Museum of California

Cruisin’ the Fossil Coastline – Oakland Museum of California

Exploring the connections between art and science, this exhibit is a must see for budding archeologists. Traveling more than 10,000 miles in 250 days with stops along the coast to visit fossil dig sites, visiting museums, examining research collection and meeting with scientists, the exhibit showcases the adventure of artist Ray Troll and paleontologist Kirk Johnson and brings to life the creatures that once roamed the West Coast. Sculpture, maps, a giant Harlan’s ground sloth fossil and bones from the collections of OMCA and the California Academy of Sciences will allow visitors to see the natural environment of California in a new way.

Oakland Museum of California 
When: Now through March 17, 2019

photo: Randall Museum

A Tradition in Making - California Native Basketry – Randall Museum

Designed for visitors of all ages, the interactive exhibit explores the history of basket making in California with beautiful artifacts curated by Julia Parker, a basket maker, teacher and storyteller with three generations of weavers. Kids also get a chance to make their own baskets with a cool hands-on weaving station while getting insight on basic technique, varied forms and functions, uses and traditions.

Randall Museum
: Now through September 20, 2019

photo: Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

Chamber of Heart & Mystery – Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History

This whimsical exhibit is all about discovering the mysteries surrounding the human heart. Developed by local children’s book author David Zeltser and Young Writers Program Director Julia Chiapella, the exhibit is staged as a fictional study for Dr. Cora X Cruz, an explorer of the heart and its mysteries. Kids can observe the Cabinets of Curiosities, the Magic Lantern Theater and the Bureau of Discovery. The exhibit is operated by the Young Writers Program, which helps young people use writing as a way of self-discovery.

Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History 
When: Now through July 19, 2019

—Sandra Lee