On an industrial stretch of Third Street, right across from a large housing development in progress, sits the San Francisco Museum of Craft and Design. On the other side of the glass-fronted facade is a large one-room museum, a gift shop that rivals MoMa’s, and a long list of regular programs taught by local crafters and artists.
The Museum opened its doors on Third Street in 2013, in a towering warehouse with ‘American Industrial Center’ emblazoned along its roof. Shortly after opening, it installed the first-ever parklet on Third Street, adding a splash of color and a comfy seating area outside the museum.
Ariel Zaccheo, the museum’s curator, tells us that the definition of “craft” is open to interpretation, but generally describes works made of glass, ceramic, textiles, wood and clay. Often, a high level of attention is paid to the details of a piece, such as the color of thread used in a quilt, or the way a sculpture is hung from the ceiling.
One of the SFMCD’s current shows, Lines That Tie, features the work of two CCA textile art professors, Carole Beadle and Lia Cook, as well as several of their students. Over the past four decades of teaching, Beadle and Cook have helped launch the careers of many of their students, who are now experienced artists in their own right.
While the current shows (which are up through August) are definitely worth a visit, it’s the Museum of Craft and Design’s diverse array of programming that draws in big crowds. The museum hosts a regular calendar of lectures, workshops and happy hour events, many of them led by artists who have work hanging in the space.
“Our mission is to get people out in the neighborhood, get social, meet each other, and learn new skills,” says program director Charlotte Jones. With accessibility in mind, many of the programs held at the SFMCD are free or inexpensive. An upcoming adult hand weaving workshop, for example, only costs $25 for non-members.
Each program can accommodate around 30 participants, depending on the complexity of the subject and the availability of supplies—many of which are donated or deeply discounted, to help keep programs affordable.
Kids’ programs are also offered, both on-site at the museum, and off-site at various events and organizations throughout the city. Staff even host regular programs for kids at public libraries throughout the city.