San Francisco Museum and Historical Society
The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, interpretation, and presentation of the history of San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area. It is the official historical museum of San Francisco.
The society conducts walking tours of San Francisco and holds monthly programs, tours, and other exhibitions. It also maintains the Encyclopedia of San Francisco, which aims to become the definitive reference work of the history of San Francisco.
The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society was created from the merger of two organizations. The San Francisco Historical Society was founded in 1988 by historian Charles Fracchia. It was a membership-based organization focused on programs and publications, and supported the creation of the Barbary Coast Trail walking tour.
The Museum of the City of San Francisco was founded in 1991 by Gladys Hansen, the city archivist of San Francisco. It had a small exhibit space at The Cannery until 2000, when it lost its lease. It then had temporary exhibits at Pier 45 (near Fisherman's Wharf) and at San Francisco City Hall.
The two organizations merged in February 2002. One of the purposes of the merger was so that they could put together one proposal to renovate and operate the Old Mint as a history museum. However, the Museum of the City of San Francisco's original web site, operated directly by Gladys Hansen, remained independent, and in 2003 renamed itself as the Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco. Hansen's personal research collection of artifacts from the 1906 San Francisco earthquake also remained in her possession.
The San Francisco Museum and Historical Society took over management of the Old San Francisco Mint in 2004, with plans to make it the museum's permanent home. It spent about US$14 million to stabilize and partially renovate the building. However, the building still needs about US$60 million in additional work, and the City of San Francisco concluded the organization was not making progress quickly enough after 11 years of work, so it ordered the museum to vacate the building.
The society supported a project called FoundSF, a grassroots history of San Francisco created by the Shaping San Francisco project, from 2009 to 2011.
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