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Readers’ Choice 2016

Local Theater

Founded in 1965, San Francisco’s Tony Award-winning American Conservatory Theater presents new works and Broadway hits in the historic 1,040-seat Geary Theater, as well as at the restored Strand, which has two performance spaces. The ACT Conservatory serves 3,000 students annually, offering MFA degrees and classes for youth.

A Tony Award winner for outstanding regional theater, the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, with two stages and a school, has grown from a storefront stage launched in 1968 to a nationally renowned arts organization. It presents new works, nine of which have gone on to Broadway, and often puts its own spin on classic dramas and musicals.

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley, which presents plays in Palo Alto and Mountain View, has launched its 47th season, serving some 100,000 patrons annually. In addition to its eight-play season, which features dramas and musicals, as well as U.S. and regional premieres, it hosts a summer New Works Festival, plus camps for kids and workshops for adults.

The 50-year-old Marin Theatre Company, based in Mill Valley, produces a six-show season of provocative new plays by American playwrights, including at least one world premiere. It also offers a four-play series and classes for young audiences. It awards annual prizes for emerging playwrights and new works.

San Francisco

American Conservatory Theater

(415) 749-2228

East Bay

Berkeley Repertory Theatre


(510) 647-2949

South Bay/Peninsula

TheatreWorks Silicon Valley

Palo Alto

(650) 463-1960

North Bay

Marin Theatre Company

Mill Valley

(415) 388-5208


Local Museum

In a building that architect Daniel Libeskind adapted from a power station, San Francisco’s Contemporary Jewish Museum strives to reflect the spectrum of the Jewish experience, not only in art but also in music, film, literature and science. Among the special events: “Night at the Jewseum,” drop-in studios for families and musical performances.

San Francisco’s Museum of Modern Art reopened this year with a 10-story expansion, tripling the gallery space to feature 260 postwar and contemporary works from the Doris and Donald Fisher Collection, as well as works from the permanent collection. It now offers free public access to ground-floor exhibits and free admission to visitors 18 and younger.

More than an art museum or a natural history museum, the Oakland Museum of California, with a collection of nearly 2 million objects, reflects California’s many cultures, in art, history and natural sciences. The gardens are free and open to the public during museum hours, offering a tranquil place for picnicking and relaxing.

Situated on the Stanford University campus overlooking Rodin bronzes, the 122-year-old Cantor Arts Center is a free, small museum featuring changing exhibitions. The permanent collection — 40,000 works spanning 5,000 years — incorporates art from Asia, Africa and Latin America, as well as classical and contemporary works by noted American and European artists.

Located in downtown Santa Rosa, the Museums of Sonoma County include an art museum and a history museum. This Smithsonian Institute affiliate displays loaned exhibitions from the iconic Washington, D.C., museum. The art museum exhibits contemporary works, including those by Northern California artists, and the history museum documents the region’s rich heritage.

San Francisco

Contemporary Jewish Museum

(415) 655-7800


San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

(415) 357-4000


East Bay

Oakland Museum of California


(510) 318-8400

South Bay/Peninsula

Cantor Arts Center at Stanford University

Palo Alto

(650) 723-4177

North Bay

Museums of Sonoma County

Santa Rosa

(707) 579-1500


Art Gallery

Located in San Francisco’s Union Square, Scott Richards Contemporary Art presents works by both American and European artists. It presents nine solo exhibitions annually, including sculpture and painting, and provides consultation to clients on building a collection.

In Oakland, Vessel Gallery curator and owner Lonnie Lee presents new group shows every four weeks. Memorable works have included Cyrus Tilton’s “Cycle,” an elaborate installation in which thousands of sculpted insects moved across the gallery. Lee focuses on discovering emerging artists as well as helping clients build collections.

The Peninsula JCC in Foster City is committed to exhibiting the works of Jewish artists as well as presenting work that explores Jewish values, themes and ideas. The gallery has shown artists from Israel, the Bay Area and throughout the country. A recent juried exhibit featured 114 pieces by 82 local artists, including mixed media, photography and handcrafted jewelry.

In downtown Mill Valley, Robert Green Fine Arts, in business for 47 years, focuses on post-World War II American modernism, primarily abstract works by artists that take advantage of “the sensual nature of color and form,” according to the website.

San Francisco

Scott Richards Contemporary Art

(415) 788-5588

East Bay

Vessel Gallery


(510) 893-8800

South Bay/Peninsula

Peninsula JCC Gallery

Foster City

(650) 212-7522

North Bay

Robert Green Fine Arts

Mill Valley

(415) 381-8776


Readers’ Choice 2016