Beat Museum – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura

Beat Museum

A collection of memorabilia from the Beat era in the back of a San Francisco bookstore. 

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The Beat Museum is a bookstore and museum in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco. The museum contains a large collection of memorabilia from the Beat era, including personal effects and manuscripts of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, Charles Bukowski, and other prominent poets and writers of the time.

Dedicated to spreading the spirit of the Beat Generation, the small museum is situated in what was once the center of the Beat world in the 1950s. City Lights Books, around the corner, was the original publisher of Ginsberg’s Howl and Other Poems in 1956.

While the first floor feels a bit more like a traditional museum and store, the second floor feels more like someone’s dorm room, or a coffee shop, with couches, books, clippings, and posters plastered along the walls. Visitors are free to lounge and read at their convenience.

Guided tours are available, but visitors are encouraged to roam the museum at their own pace, taking from the stories and photos whatever they need. The Beat Museum also houses an exact replica of the car used to film the 2012 movie adaptation of Kerouac’s On the Road.

Know Before You Go

The museum is open from 10-7 daily. The store also hosts events and sells souvenirs, books, vintage magazines, and lots more.

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