10 Berkeley museums to visit this weekend

Come Cal Day, Berkeley will be more stuffed than Cal Rubgy’s trophy chest. An estimated 30,000 to 40,000 people will descend upon our streets and experience a day in the life of a Cal Bear.

Here at the Daily Clog, we have a special dedication to finding the best things Berkeley offers, which coincidentally are often free. So for all you potential Cal and current Cal students who are looking to ditch the Cal Day planned tours, here are ten Berkeley museums you should put on your to-do list as you explore the den of California’s Golden Bears this weekend.

1. Habitot

Berkeley’s premier children’s museum celebrates its quinceanera April 20. With dozens of exhibits including a popular art studio, model firehouse and interactive waterworks play area, Habitot embraces the inner kid in everyone. And be sure to try the face-painting crayons, a famous Habitot favorite.

2. Lawrence Hall of Science

Perched atop the hills of the UC Berkeley campus, the Lawrence Hall of Science is well worth the excursion for the innovator at heart. The center offers a dizzying array of interactive areas like the Animal Discovery Room, the Insect Zoo and a multi-sensory fun zone KidsLab. A fully-functional planetarium, a Nobel Prize display and Nano — a cutting edge exhibit on the future of nanotechnology — offer plenty of fun for seasoned scientists. For everyone else, check out the life-sized replica of Pheena the fin whale on the outside plaza.

3. Berkeley Art Museum

The geometric oddity across the street from UC Berkeley houses an elaborate and eccentric art gallery. Housing a diverse collection ranging from Andy Warhol to ancient Himalayan sacred mandalas, the Berkeley Art Museum is sure to be a sentimental destination for the aesthetically-inclined. The museum also houses the work of Cal’s Hans Hoffman, one of the most definitive modern art masters of the 20th century.

4. Pacific Film Archive

Located on Berkeley’s campus, the Pacific Film Archive offers moviegoers an assortment of films from indie to anime and Hitchcock in a revolving exhibition. The archives also contain the largest collection of Japanese films outside Japan as well as over 10,000 videos.

5. Museum of Vertebrate Zoology

The expansive Museum of Vertebrate Zoology finally opens to the public on Cal Day. Situated across the giant Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton in the Valley Life Science Building, the museum boasts an enormous display of stuffed taxidermy, live animals (this year snakes, bats, and raptors) and an animal origami collection by paper master Bernie Peyton. A full panel of leading biologists and researchers will deliver free seminars throughout the day. As for the kids, park them at the puppet show or have them take a leap in the “Tree Frog Treks.”

6. Museum of Paleontology

Also nestled in Berkeley’s Valley Life Science Building, the Museum of Paleontology will feature guided tours of the extensive amassment of fossils and specimens. On Cal Day, lectures will be held by professors and grad students on every extinction from the dinosaurs to sea otters in the San Francisco Bay. Also be sure to check out nearby Essig Museum of Entomology for bug displays or the Jepson Herbaria for pressed plants.

7. Sake Museum

The museum at Takara Sake near the Bay is a quaint historical gem for the “Japanophile.” Showcasing 19th century sake-making with authentic Japanese artifacts and displays, the sake museum offers an alternative experience for the wine enthusiast.

8. Bade Museum of Biblical Archaeology

Showcasing artifacts from Mesopotamia to Egypt, the Bade Museum of Biblical Archaeology is a treasure collection for Indiana Jones aspirants. Located on the campus of the Pacific School of Religion, the museum even houses 300-year-old historic bibles, antique cuneiform tablets and relics of everyday life in the Mediterranean Levant.

9. Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life

With vast archival holdings of the global Diaspora, the museum at the Magnes Collection offers a comprehensive collection of cultural relics. More than 30,000 objects from around the word rest behind numerous glass walls, making the museum a definitive experience. The library hosts ancient books and music holdings, offering a glimpse into the cosmopolitan past of Jewish history.

10. Lacis Museum

For the fashionista, the Lacis Museum contains a huge collection of vogue trends throughout human history. Textile and lace comes from as far back as Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and samples from high 17th and 18th century European clothing are richly displayed. Needles and sewing machines are carefully catalogued as well as a over 10,000 books on the textile industry are neatly contained in the library and museum. For an incredible visual journey into embroidery, needlework and wearable design, the Lacis Museum is sure to delight.

Image source: Joe Parks under Creative Commons.

Contact Alex Mabanta at [email protected]