GLBT History Museum in San Francisco

Learn More About Major Milestones
in the History of this Community

The GLBT History Museum in San Francisco (Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender) offers a look into the last 100 years of local events that have shaped this community. You will find this attraction in San Francisco's Castro District.

This SF museum is the first of its kind in the US. The only other museum in the world dedicated to this topic is in Berlin, Germany.

glbt museum

There are currently three galleries in the museum.

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The Front Gallery: Migrating Archives

The first gallery you will encounter during your visit is Migrating Archives: LGBT Delegates from Around the World. It includes several panels of information about interenational LGBT organizations and events.

glbt museum

These are just some of the people and their stories included in this area:

  • Oscar Wilde: A famous Irish writer and poet that was thrown in jail for 'indecent acts', and his fight to get out of jail in the late 1800s (from the British National Archives)

  • Beverly Ditsie: An LGBT activist born and raised in Sowato, an urban area in the city of Johannesburg in South Africa and her fight for equality (from the GALA center in South Africa)

  • Suzan Daniel: A brave woman who fought for equality in Europe and started the first Belgium Gay/Lesbian Society in 1953 (from the Suzan Daniel Fund)

The Main Gallery

The Main Gallery in the GLBT History Museum in San Francisco houses Our Vast Queer Past exhibits.

our vast queer past

Instead of chronological order, you will find this area set up by topic such as:

  • Pre-Marital Bonds: Creating Family Before Marriage Equality: Here you can learn about how the LGBT community learns to bond as a family outside of marriage.

  • Consuming Queers: This exhibit is a look at major brands and products that were boycotted by or created specifically for the LGBT community.

  • Bar Life: Going Out: This display focuses on the nightlife aspect for this group. It includes an overview of how they used nightlife activities to meet other people within the community. It also includes matchbooks from several San Francisco bars frequented by the LGBT group between the 1950s and 1990s.

The Corner Gallery

The final gallery in the GLBT History Museum is Legendary: African American GLBT Past Meets Present. It's a small but powerful display focused on the struggles of the African American Community.

legendary exhibit

Harvey Milk & the GLBT History Museum

One of the most important and well-known GLBT activists in San Francisco was Harvey Milk. You will find several of his personal items or pieces related to his work on display at the museum.

Who is Harvey Milk?

Harvey Milk and his partner lived in and owned a camera shop in the Castro District in the 1970s. He fought for this community and encouraged others to get involved.

He eventually won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1977. He was the first openly gay elected official in California.

A conservative former Supervisor, Dan White, assassinated both Milk and Mayor George Mascone in SF's City Hall in 1978.

His Items in the Museum

Shortly after you enter the museum, you will see this case of Harvey Milk's personal items sitting on his old kitchen table.

harvey milk items

To the left of this display, you can pick up a "Gallery Guide" that tells you a little more about him. It also gives you an overview of all the items in the museum related to Milk.

Do you want to learn more about Harvey Milk? One of my favorite books about him is called The Mayor of Castro Street.It goes into great detail about his life, passions, and involvement in the community.

Admission, Hours & Location

The cost of admission is usually around $5 per person, or $3 for California students with ID. The first Wednesday of the month is FREE for all visitors. Check their site to confirm admission prices.

While they do allow children in the museum, please use caution as there are sexually explicit pieces on display.

The GLBT History Museum in San Francisco is open:

  • Monday - Saturday: 11am - 6pm
  • Sunday: Noon - 5pm

You will find this museum at 4127 18th Street. It is just a half a block west of Castro Street.

Discounted Admission: At times, you will find discounted tickets on Groupon. Click here for details.

Tips to Get Here

From Union Square

  • Underground Muni: The best way to get here from Union Square is to take one of the underground Muni trains. You can pick them up at the Powell Street Station (near Market and the Cable Car turnaround) and take it to the Castro Street Station.
    • The L, M & KT trains all stop at the Castro Station.
    • It is the fourth stop from Powell Street.
    • It takes less than 15 minutes after you board the train to get here.
    • The train is $2.25 per person.
    • The museum is just a block and a half from this station (see map below).

map for castro museum

From Fisherman's Wharf

  • F Streetcar: One of the easiest ways to get here from Fisherman's Wharf is the F Streetcar. You can pick it up on the corner of Jones and Beach Streets. The F Streetcar goes all the way to the Castro District and drops off at the corner of Market and Castro Streets.
    • Even though this route is easy, it will take about an hour or more. If you aren't in a hurry, it is a beautiful ride.
    • The cost is $2.25 per person each way.
    • If you want to shorten the journey, hop off the F Streetcar at Drumm & Market Streets and head to the underground Muni at the Embarcadero Station. The L, M & KT trains will take you to the Castro Street Station (see the map above for details). This shortens the journey by about 25 to 30 minutes.

Other Parts of the City

  • 24-Divisadero: Another popular bus that makes its way through the Castro is the 24-Divisadero bus. This is a north and south bus that will get you here from anywhere along Divisadero Street including Pacific Heights, Alamo Square, and the Lower Haight.

Other Pages You Might Enjoy

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> > GLBT History Museum

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