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Radio Collection on Display at San Francisco History Museum

Radios at SF History  Museum

Radio exhibit at the San Francisco History Museum (photo: J. Waits)

Yesterday I spent the day playing tourist in my own town. On the top of my list was going to the San Francisco Wax Museum one last time before it transferred to new owners (it will be closed and the space will be remodeled by Madame Tussaud’s). As the day began, I had no idea that I would not only get to see creepy wax figures, but that I’d also happen upon a fantastic vintage radio collection.

My husband suggested that we start the morning in Union Square, grabbing our favorite Swedish pancakes at the classic Sears Fine Food. After seeing a massive line, we decided to check out an adjacent restaurant instead. As I perused the menu posted at the entrance, my husband noticed a large flat screen showing images from the San Francisco History Museum. After seeing a bunch of radios in the slideshow, he alerted me, and suddenly we had a new item on our agenda for the day.

Following our breakfast at the Golden Gate Grill, we walked upstairs to the San Francisco History Museum at 449 Powell Street. Although the sign said that admission was $5 for adults and $3 for kids, we were offered free admission when the person at the desk found out that we’d just had breakfast downstairs. It turns out that the museum was created by the owners of Sears Fine Foods, Lori’s Diner, and the Golden Gate Grill.

We’d never heard of this museum before and, as it turns out, it’s been open for less than a year. Exhibits are devoted to a range of topics in San Francisco history, including displays about hippies, the 1906 earthquake, Mission Dolores, the Cliff House, and San Francisco-connected luminaries like Shirley Temple. One entire room houses a vintage radio collection owned by museum founder and Lori’s Diner CEO Man J. Kim. The small room towards the back of the museum has the gorgeous radio display. Ranging from novelty radios (one is shaped like Coca-Cola cooler), to large, vintage radios, the collection is a delight for radio fanatics like me.

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