Go Here Now: The Temporary Randall Museum

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Bay Area parents shed a collective tear when the beloved Randall Museum closed its doors last fall for a major renovation. Sure, it meant a bigger, better Randall (coming Winter 2017) but until then, where would our train-obsessed toddlers get their fix? Where could our kids cover themselves in paint or throw their own ceramics with a view of the entire city? And who would keep the tailless raccoon company? What many don’t know is that most of the treasures of the Randall (save for the view) have been moved to a new location while the work is being done. And it’s still fun, and still free. Check out all the details below.

Randall_TempThe Randall on a Mission
While the decades-old museum on the tippy top of Corona Hill is getting a makeover, the museum has moved into the Mission Arts Center on Treat Avenue, between 20th and 21st streets. Its sunny location is in the heart of the Mission District, meaning everything from mural hunts to burrito breaks can be part of you Randall visit. The community center is a gem in itself, if a well-worn one. There is plenty of space for most of the beloved exhibits and maker classrooms, no shortage of clean restrooms, and even a courtyard and playground. When you enter from Treat, it may not look like much, but head upstairs for the animal exhibits, and make sure to look out back for the courtyard. 


The Whole (Animal) Family is Here
All the cooing quails, rescued crows and, of course, the tiny-tailed raccoon have plenty of space to play here. The petting areas are all settled in, too, so kiddies can cuddle with the bunnies, guinea pigs, chickens, tortoises and even that moody duck. The snakes, turtles and fish have also made the trip. Randall loyalists (and kids with great memories) might notice a few things missing: the busy bee hive isn’t here, and sadly, the whole train shebang (from the epic models in the basement to the playhouse caboose) isn’t in this temporary location.

A Sunny Place to Study
Kids will love the sunny corner of nature-themed books and games on the second floor. huge windows fill the place with light, and the area is especially pretty in the late afternoon. This space also holds many of the reptiles, and a few of the interactive exhibits about caring for the environment.

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Class is in Session
The Randall has long been home to some of SF Park and Rec’s best classes, from ceramics to painting to wood shop. And while not all the classes are being hosted at the Mission Arts Center, many more have found temporary homes elsewhere, such as Garfield Square Clubhouse, Sunnyside Playground and Joe DiMaggio playground. What you will find here are: ceramics, art and tech classes for families, drop-in science Saturdays, Saturday Animal Talks, Toddler Tuesdays art class and more. To best sort out when and where your desired class is held, we suggest picking up the thorough booklet right inside the front door of the Mission Arts Center.

Don’t Miss the Playground!
While the simple play structure may not complete with others around town, we are smitten with the brick-walled courtyard in the back of the center (it’s technically in the middle, as the back of the building is a public gym). The walls are covered with creeping vines, which bloom with vibrant pink flowers on occasion. There are stairs, ramps and a sandbox, but but most importantly, plenty of room to run around. Thanks to the vines covering the fenced roof, the space gets plenty of light but is never too hot or bright, even on the Mission’s sunniest days. It’s the perfect place to end your visit to the terrific, temporary Randall Museum.


745 Treat Avenue (between 20th and 21st streets)
San Francisco, Ca
Keep up with the museum’s renovation timeline at randallmuseum.org

Have you been to the temporary Randall Museum? What did you think? Tell us in the comments below!