Without history museums, the study of the past would be relegated to musty shoe-box dioramas and the Internet's teeming archive of cat videos. Browse cultural history with today's Groupon: for $30, you get a one-year contributing membership to the Chinese Historical Society of America, located on Clay Street in Chinatown, plus a copy of The Architecture of San Francisco Chinatown (a $108 total value).
Founded in 1963, the Chinese Historical Society houses a remarkable array of cultural and historical artifacts, providing Chinese-Americans, Chinaphiles, and generally hungry-brained humans an opportunity to explore a rich cultural legacy. A year-long contributing membership to the society nets unlimited admission to the museum for up to two adults and two children and/or grandchildren, two additional guest passes, a 10% discount at the museum bookstore, a subscription to the Bulletin newsletter, the ability to fly through spread toes, and invitations to members-only events (a $100 value). Groupon buyers also receive a one-issue copy of Philip Choy's The Architecture of San Francisco Chinatown, a social history of the region as informed by its most artistically rich buildings and public spaces (an $8 value).
The museum's collection includes enlightening heirlooms such as Frank Wong's miniature Chinatown scenes and James Leong's mural of regional Chinese-American history. Finding Jake Lee (opening Saturday, February 12) is among the fresh-faced exhibits, providing an overview of the titular water-colorer's region-focused imagery. The museum's Julia Morgan-designed building is itself a work of historic merit, blending Chinese and Western elements into an aesthetically pleasing casing, like a smoothie served in a Waterford crystal vase.
-   - Since the 1840s, this community has survived riots, discrimination, fires, bootlegging gangsters and politicians' attempts to relocate it down the coast - the amazing-but-true story unfolds before your eyes at the landmark Chinese Historical Society of America Museum. Lonely Planet
-   - Really enjoyed finding this museum. L K., Yelp, 11/23/10
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