For San Francisco residents new and old, the Tenderloin is a source of endless fascination. This colorful and historical neighborhood has seen its share of characters, crusaders, and creators, and the stories contained here could keep even the most jaded visitor on the edge of their seat.

Luckily, we’ve got a spot dedicated to chronicling the history of this exceptional spot, right nearby on Eddy and Leavenworth Streets. The Tenderloin Museum, opened in 2015, hosts a rotating set of exhibits focused on the people and events that make this often-overlooked neighborhood the rightful center of attention. For those who live here or are just passing through, this vivid history is not to be missed.

Situated across from the legendary Black Cat jazz club, the musical history of the Tenderloin is on display with pieces celebrating the diverse group artists who’ve come through the area, from Thelonious Monk to Jefferson Airplane. Aside from entertainment, the Museum has a dedicated focus to the history of political and social activism that has centered on the surrounding streets.

The Museum’s walking tours offer an up-close look at the Tenderloin’s historical and current hotspots. Far from gawking tourism, these treks are guided by longtime residents who know the streets like the backs of their hands. Their passion for the neighborhood comes through and compellingly ties the legacy of the past to the pulsating present.

A gift shop featuring the work of local artists rather than the expected mugs and calendars is an appropriate way to wrap up your visit, letting all who come through these doors engage with the still-vibrant character of San Francisco’s most fascinating neighborhood. The Tenderloin deserves a museum as unique as itself, and thankfully, it’s got one.

Looking for engrossing activities in the SF area? Check out our look at 5 Hidden Gems of San Francisco to get to know this great city even better!