This is not your average museum!
Musée Mécanique is one of the world’s largest private collections of coin-operated mechanical instruments, and one of the most unique museums in San Francisco! The collection was started by SF native Edward Galland Zelinskey, who bought his first coin-operated game when he was just 11 years old in 1933. Since then, it’s grown to include over 300 antique arcade artifacts, coin-operated pianos, slot machines, animations, and more! Zelinskey passed away in 2004, but his magnificent collection is still free for the public to enjoy at Pier 45 in San Francisco.
The oldest machines date back all the way to the late 1800s, yet are still in their original condition. Not only are guests invited to browse the enormous collection, but you can even play the games!
The massive assortment of machines and games takes many a visitor down memory lane, especially those who grew up in San Francisco. SF natives may be familiar with Playland at the Beach, Sutro Baths, and the Cliff House. Certain games and machines date back to those times, including “Laffing Sal,” “Susie the Can-Can Dancer,” and “Carnival.”
The collection as a whole has pieces from both San Francisco and from around the world. It’s truly a window into the past, and playing the machines yourself will take you back through the decades of people who played them before you.
Zelinskey wrote a piece called “How it all Began”, explaining how his collection came to be. Several impressive pieces he mentions specifically include a Seeburg piano with mandolin and xylophone attachments which he repaired himself, and a 1912 steam motorcycle which he says is “the only steam motorcycle, perhaps, in the whole world.”
Musée Mécanique is open to the public 365 days a year from 10am-8pm. Admission is completely free, but machines cost usually a quarter or fifty cents to use. Find the museum at Pier 45 at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco!
Featured image: @museemecanique via Instagram