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SF’s Treasure Island Museum is Growing

The historic Art Deco building will transform into a new and larger exhibit space for the museum
By - posted 7/6/2022 No Comment

The Treasure Island Museum recently announced it’s completing a new and larger exhibit space in the historic Building One on Treasure Island. Visitors will enter through a proposed entrance from the new Building One plaza opposite the ferry landing and transportation center. A space of 3,500 to 4,000 square feet has been allocated on the ground floor adjacent to the lobby.

The unique Art Deco Building One was originally built for the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition.

Does the building look familiar? If so, you may have seen it in the 1989 film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade which served as the Berlin Airport. It also starred as a hotel in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap and also appears in the second season of Netflix’s The OA.

History of the Treasure Island Museum

The Treasure Island Museum, founded by the Navy in 1975, occupied the lobby of one of the original airport buildings constructed in 1937-38. This Streamline Moderne “Administration Building” (Building One) has served through the years as the administrative center for the Golden Gate International Exposition (GGIE), a terminal and ticketing office for Pan American Airways, and headquarters for the Twelfth Naval District. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The current Treasure Island Museum began in 1976 as a “friend of the museum” nonprofit under the name “Navy/Marine Corps Museum Association”. It raised funds to support museum activities, including the purchase of the original jeweled gold key created for the GGIE’s opening ceremonies, the restoration of the six “Pacific Unity” sculptures currently located at the front of Building One, and the re-creation of the GGIE’s original exterior illumination of the building.

​The Navy museum went out of existence in 1997 as part of the base closure of Naval Station Treasure Island. The collection was placed in storage. In 2011, most of it was transferred to the Treasure Island Development Authority (TIDA), the agency of the City of San Francisco tasked with governance of Treasure Island. The collection is available to the Treasure Island Museum for exhibition and research purposes.

The nonprofit association remained in existence. In 2008 it began operating a new Treasure Island Museum in Building One, in space provided by TIDA.  In 2018 it adopted the corporate name Treasure Island Museum.

The museum is focused on funding, designing, and building a 3500 – 4000 square-foot museum in space committed by TIDA on the ground floor of Building One.  In the meantime, it plans and mount exhibits, manages a growing collection, and organizes lectures, events, and tours.

Currently, the museum offers two exhibitions in Building One, open on weekdays during business hours. Admission is free. Plus it hosts monthly lectures, or you can visit The Pacific Unity Statues in front of the building anytime.