Museum Mechanical, San Francisco

The Museum Mechanical, or the Musée Mécanique, is a collection of eclectic and historically significant arcade type machines that are primarily of the kinetic variety. It was started by Ed Zelinsky when he was a little boy in 1920 in an amusement park called Playland (creative marketing didn't appear to exist in the 1920s). It was moved in 1972 to a house across the highway but still overlooking the coast and stayed there until 2002 when the National Park Service offered cash and a location on Fisherman's Wharf.

Strangely this move caused a lot of consternation and protest among those who grew up with the old locations, but the move was finalized and now it's on the Wharf. Entrance is free but the machines cost to operate due to the high cost of maintenance to keep them working.

The Grounds

It's on Fisherman's Wharf, past most of the tourist spots (which is a bonus in my books honestly), housed in an old warehouse near some WW2 ships.

The Museum

Since it's in a warehouse, it has an extremely open floor plan, with pretty easy access via multiple openings. Things are kinda organized by type and age, but then again, it's not. Wandering aimlessly is recommended by yours truly, and when you find interesting devices, plop those quarters in!
It seems at the turn of the century, people were into some very morbid stuff 1900s snuff films precursors.  Kinda tame by today's standards but must have been quite shocking back in the day I'm at a loss to explain the point of this one, the characters just kind of move around
Sports games have always been a mainstay of amusement. Some of these older ones are just astounding, and they have many of them. Some are hand cast iron and hand finished by the look of them.
I remember these fondly from past decades This one is so interesting, I bet the Little Rascals waited in line for this one This doesn't look that hard to play, why are teams paying so much for players?
Before movies, they had these "peep show" type zoetropes that used a big cylinder with "flip cards" of pictures to simulate motion. They had other subjects but the popular ones seem to be very racey with direct or implied nudity. 1908 was a strange time.
See, risque, and um, I have no idea why there is a mirror there.  Capitalizing on the exoticism of the unknown parts of the world
As actual motion machines still continue to be part of our amusement experience, they continue to evolve, and some... needed to.
These, so so so cool, and have been with us almost unchanged for 90 years.  Rare occurrence to get it right the first time Using controls that emulate real, I have never been able to do a damn thing with this game And into the electronic age with simulated movements
And let's not forget to reinforce racist stereotypes for novelty


A very different type of place to visit, and nerdy just like I like 'em. Easy access in the tourist mecca of the wharf and it's not a Ripley's Believe it or Not. Very close to military shipping museums and also the classic seafood restaurants that have been part of the wharf forever.

It's fun!

Leave a comment

All comments are moderated, so they will be posted after approval

Related blog posts

Marriott Union Square - Posted: 2021-11-11
California Academy of Sciences - Posted: 2021-12-16