Museo Italo Americano

America: a country of mutts. Many of us can trace our heritage back to several other countries, and we’ve grown up hearing stories of ancestors leaving their homes and crossing the ocean, praying their lives would be different in America. Now, many years later, some of us want to know more about the places we came from. The Museo Italo Americano gives this experience — and far more — to its visitors.

Founded in 1978, the Museo Italo Americano offers Italian-Americans the opportunity to immerse themselves in the rich history of, well, Italian-Americans. The museum’s goal is to ensure that their heritage doesn’t get forgotten or lost as their identity becomes more and more entwined with the American landscape. Come to the Museo Italo Americano to see masterpieces by painters like Giorgio De Chirico, Sandro Chia, and Francesco Clemente, and examine the beautiful curves and angles of sculptures by Beniamino Bufano, Italo Scanga, and David Bottini. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that the offerings of the museum end there. Instead, take a look at the calendar. Do you like the films of Felini? How about mandolin orchestras? Or perhaps you’d like to attend a lecture on the Florentine architecture during the Romanesque and Renaissance period? The Museo Italo Americano opens its arms to you.

Being the first museum in America totally devoted to Italian-American art and culture makes the Museo Italo Americano unique by definition. Big shoes to fill, and they do it through their permanent catalogue, visiting exhibitions, and through extra elements, like Italian language classes and the Children’s Italian Art Outreach (C.I.A.O.) program. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect to the museum is the Historical archive, where various artifacts donated by those who emigrated from Italy are on display.

When your visit is over, take a trip to the museum gift shop to buy beautiful, Italian-made, ceramics, jewelry, Christmas ornaments, along with specialty books, magazines, and Italian dictionaries.

The Museo Italo Americano can be found in Building C of San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, noon to 4:00pm. They are open on Mondays, but by appointment only. For more information, call 425-673-2200, or visit their website at, where you can also find a full calendar of their upcoming events.

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