The Beat Museum – San Francisco Shrine To Beatnickdom

The Beat Museum in San Francisco is dedicated to the spirit of The Beat Generation, whose credo is defined as having the courage to live your individual truth. In case, you weren't alive then, the Beats were a group of writers, artists and thinkers who gathered in San Francisco 1950s, a time in history when free-thinking was not encouraged. Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti wrote about spiritual emptiness through stream-of-consciousness poetry and prose.

The Beat Museum houses an extensive collection of Beat memorabilia — original manuscripts, first editions, personal letters, and cultural artefacts. Located in SF's lively North Beach neighborhood, the Beat museum is found in what was the epicenter of Beat activity during the 1950s. Opened in 2003, The Beat Museum is independently owned and operated.


10 Great Things About the Beat Museum


Jack Kerouac

1. The museum is dedicated to the Beat's legacy…

With the goal of reaching new audiences — whose grandparents might have been born in the 1950s!

2. The Beat museum is a passion project…

Created by Jerry Cimino, a retired IBM computer executive who developed a passion for the message of the Beats.

3. A highlight of the museum…

Is a 1965 black-and-white photograph with Bob Dylan, Allen Ginsberg, and Michael McClure in a North Beach alley near City Lights.

4. City Lights Bookstore…

Co-founded by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, played a key role in the Beat movement when it published Ginsberg's Howl and Other Poems in 1956.

5.The emergency exit warns you…

That an alarm "will HOWL" if the door is opened.

6. The SF Chronicle's Herb Caen…

Is credited for coining the term beatnik, after the Russian Sputnik, although it was Jack Kerouac himself who introduced the term Beat Generation. (That's Kerouac in the photo above, taken by Allen Ginsberg.)

7. The museum's biggest acquisition…

Is a 1949 Hudson. It's the exact model driven by Jack Kerouc and Neal Cassady in On The Road. The car is on permanent loan, with one caveat — it must never be washed.

8. Across the street from the Beat Museum…

Is the City Lights Bookstore. Next door is Vesuvio Cafe, a vintage bar established in 1948 and frequented by many of the Beats. On the drinks menu is a Jack Kerouac with a heavy dose of tequila, rum, orange juice, cranberry juice, and a squeeze of lemon. A block away is Caffé Trieste, a coffeehouse that was a popular meeting place for the Beats.

9. There are 1,000 artifacts…

Including a plaid jacket worn by Jack Kerouac.

10. 2017 marks the 60th anniversary…

Of the publication of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. The book propelled a generation to question authority and to hit the road with their thumbs extended in the universal gesture of hitchhiking.


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Beat Museum San Francisco Resources

City Lights

You can become a card-carrying member of the Beat Museum. For only $57 you get unlimited free membership to the museum for one year, plus 10% off all purchases in the gift shop and any purchases made online.

1957 was an important year in Beatnikdom. On the Road was published, Ferlinghetti was acquitted on obscenity charges for publishing Howl, and the Russians launched the Sputnik — which inspired the name Beatnik.

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