Blackhawk Museum in Danville: One of California’s Best Museums
The Blackhawk Museum is one of the best museums in California. What started as a car museum with some of the country’s rarest cars has now turned into a full-blown experience with four large exhibits, each with some of the most unique installations I have ever seen. I didn’t know what to expect when I visited this museum in a shopping center, but I can easily say it is now one of my favorite museums in California. Here is all the information so you can check it out.
- Hours – Currently open Friday – Sunday: 10 AM – 5PM, closed Monday – Thursday. Check their website for up to date information
- Cost: $15 for adults
- Plan at least a few hours
- Location – 3700 Blackhawk Plaza Circle, Danville, CA 94506
From the 680 North, you will get off on Diablo Road and drive east onto Camino Tassajara. After passing Crow Canyon Road, you will see the large shopping center on your left. As you head in, follow the signs up to a small parking area for the museum, or park in the main lot and just make your way up to the museum through the shopping area.
The Blackhawk Museum
The museum has five main galleries that you can see throughout the building. I am not going to try and explain all of the galleries as each is massive and needs to be experienced to appreciate it. Here is some information on each and some photos to encourage your visit.
Classic Car Collection
The classic car collection is located right on the first floor, just past the admissions area, and it is the exhibit that started it all.
The cars used to be in multiple areas, but as they added more exhibits, they compressed them to this one area and now rotate the cars often to change up the exhibit.
They claim to have some of the rarest cars in the world, with cars featured in movies (like Eleanor from Gone in 60 Seconds), to prototypes that have only a select amount across the globe.
I am not a huge car buff myself, but I enjoyed walking around and seeing all of the beautiful cars on display.
The Spirit of the Old West
Directly above the Classic Car Collection is the Spirt of the Old West exhibit, which was one of my favorites. This area showcased America’s expansion west and featured stories and antiques from both the Plains Indians and the settlers.
As soon as you walk into the exhibit, you will see the large buffalo that greets you and the expansive diorama that extends almost the width of the exhibit hall.
I was blown away by this as it was so detailed and intricate. I am sure families with kids will love exploring this area and seeing the miniature display.
The exhibit also has many different rare guns, information on Wild Bill, and stories from many of the settlers.
Then on the other side, they have many Native American artifacts and stories.
Right in the middle, there is a beautiful teepee display, and I loved learning more about many of the Native American tribal leaders.
These photos just scratch the surface of this exhibit.
Art of Africa
The Art of Africa exhibit is the smallest in the museum, but it still has a stunning collection of masks, instruments, and woodwork pieces. The exhibit information says that it “brings the folklore of sub-Saharan African culture to life.”
I was especially interested in the tree of life wooden sculptures right near the entrance. Also, the mask display, which showcases many different types of masks, was amazing to see.
Lastly, one part of the room has many different instruments, half of which I had never even seen before. It would have been cool to have some videos here showing them being played.
Into China was my favorite exhibit in the museum. I thought nothing could pass the old west exhibit, but then I was blown away here.
The exhibit focuses on the Forbidden City in China, and it features many reproductions of different parts of the city.
Right in the middle, there is a massive model of the entire city, and then behind it, there is a replica of the throne room. Surrounding these exhibits are more stunning works of art.
First, there is the Dreamscape. It is gigantic and stunning. I don’t even know how to describe this, other than that it is intricate carved wooden pieces to resemble a city that feels like it is floating in the sky.
Across from that is the 56 Horses art composition. This piece is a large section of wood that has horses carved into it and looks as if they are running up the wood. It was probably 30 feet across, and it was so beautiful.
Next to that is an exhibit on the famous Terracotta Warriors. These were cast from the original designs, and it is impressive to see them up close like this.
There is more to explore here, but I will let you see it for yourself. I thought that just this exhibit itself was worth the price of admission.
World of Nature
World of Nature is the last exhibit and the best if you are traveling with a family.
This exhibit has over 600 animal species on display from all over the world.
Many of the animals are taxidermies which makes the whole thing feel very real.
The animals are in intricate scenes, and it is crazy how much they fit into this relatively small space.
There were dozens of families with kids running around in this exhibit, and most were excited to see all that it had to offer.
I thought the most remarkable part was the stairs down to the exhibit hall, which had a giant shark right above it.
As you can probably tell, I loved this museum. It is easily one of my favorites in California now, and I highly recommend you visit. If you want more spots to explore in the Tri-Valley, check out this post and let me know what you think in the comments.