Musee Mechanique is the best thing ever

Yesterday, I went to Musee Mechanique for the first time. It’s on Pier 45, right at the end of all those piers by Fishermen’s Wharf.

I know this is only marginally related to music, but, in my defense: a) Neutral Milk Hotel went there and, from what I remember of the 33 1/3 book on In the Aeroplane Over the Sea they liked it a lot. b) there are a lot of mechanical music boxes, player pianos, mechanized orchestras and whatnot, to the extent that they’ve recorded, I believe, three CDs of the music of Musee Mechanique for purchase at their gift shop.

Musee Mechanique is a collection of coin-operated devices: penny arcade games, photo booths, flip-card movie machines (“Mutoscopes”), fortune tellers, moving dioramas and music boxes and other music machines. The collection has items from the late 1800s up until probably the 1990s, but most of them probably come from the first half of the 20th century.

It’s an amazing collection. More importantly, it’s a lot of a fun. In my other life I’m a mechanical geek (“noo! not possible” I know you’re saying), so the intricate mechanical ones are really cool to me. It’s pretty cheap: free admission and the games are 25 or 50 cents each for the most part, so for $5 or $10 you can play a lot of them.


An ancient and gorgeous sounding disc music box

more photos after the jump.


this bowling game kicked my ass; I did much better real bowling later that night


creepy barbershop quartet machine


“Career Pilot”. I like the possibilities for careers: nudist, lion tamer, dictator, hot air artist, adagio dancer and, possibly the best, love pirate


I did not arm wrestle this guy. He looked good.



One Response to “Musee Mechanique is the best thing ever”

  1. […] I was exhausted, but the cold wind woke me up as I zipped through the streets of the Mission on my bike. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go and I was a little burnt out from going to so many shows recently, but I decided a bike ride would be good for me and what better place to ride than the Rickshaw Stop where locals Here Here (unrelated wikipedia entry) and Winterbirds (myspace) and Portland band Musee Mechanique (named after one of my favorite SF institutions) were on the bill. […]

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