The Color Factory is a pop-up museum in San Francisco that celebrates color and material. It’s 12,000 square feet and two stories of colorful fun! There are 15 interactive exhibition areas that allow you to experience hues and tones by sight, smell, and taste!
The exterior is painted with rainbow stripes that remind me of Fruit Stripe zebra gum. Inside is a rainbow staircase that leads you to a world of technicolor bliss. Artists created pieces that include 10,000 hanging ribbons, a black and white mural you can color on with 6 foot green markers, a teal room that rains confetti, a giant ball pit holding 207K yellow balls, and so much more!
First opened in August, it was only supposed to last a month or two. But as an overwhelming amount of alluring photos started to flood social media, more and more people wanted to go. It was then announced to stay open through October and November! The ticket demand was actually so high that it crashed the Eventbrite site!
There’s a bit of bad news for many of you though. The Color Factory is currently SOLD OUT. However! If you join their mailing list, you’ll be the first to know about ticket giveaways and new open dates! I wound up magically securing a ticket in between flights — which was so stressful as I was waiting in the virtual queue online for my ticket purchase to go through! I got my confirmation right before the announcement to turn phone’s to airplane mode came on!
Because of how quickly these tickets went, I was only able to snag one. So I went by myself (and still had an absolute blast!) and learned a lot about visiting this place — the right way. Below is a list of things you should know before you go, and a whole lot of “Instagram gold”.
⬤ Avoid Going on Weekends or Evenings
Groups go through the museum every 30 minutes. Many people are more able to attend the Color Factory on weekends or evenings. These time slots will fill up faster and create more of a crowd. But if you can grab a time slot on the morning or afternoon of a weekday, your chances of going through the museum with a large crowd is less. The Color Factory does a great job at minimizing crowds either way. I was pleasantly surprised with how many photos I got with nobody in the background!
⬤ There are 6 free photo booths
Before you enter, you’re handed a Color Factory card with a barcode. Scan it on one of the tablets available and type in your email address. You can use this card around the museum to scan it in one of the six photo booths to have your picture taken! You can take as many photos as you’d like and they each get sent to your email for free! This is especially useful if you wind up going alone or if you’ve somehow forgotten your camera. Speaking of photos and going alone, the museum staff are also more than willing to take your picture!
PHOTO TIP : Try wearing a lot of blacks or solid colors that won’t clash with the bright hues and colorful lines around the museum. This will make your photos stand out and look a little more put together. And if you’d rather not keep asking museum staff or strangers to take your photos, consider getting a selfie stick. Nobody’s judging you and your photography in THIS museum!
⬤ Don’t miss the scratch and sniffs
Don’t miss the scratch and sniffs like I did. When you go to register your photo card and sign the liability waiver on the tablets upon entry, check out the opposite wall. There are tons of little colorful circles that each have a short description on them. I had no idea what these were and they didn’t make sense to me, so I just went on my merry way into the museum. It wasn’t until seeing someone else’s post on their visit that I realized those circles were scratch and sniffs! Each one is meant to stimulate a memory or a feeling. For example, a green one was freshly cut grass and a pink one was bubble tape.
⬤ Come hungry
But not too hungry. Treats are handed out throughout the museum and change depending on the day! The first room had a large spinning lazy susan offering up this green circular gel-like candy-like treat. Next up was a shot of charcoal lemonade in the black and white room. The yellow room offered tiny ice cream cones. It’s not much to eat if you skip lunch, but at the end you can grab a neighborhood map (more on that later) and use it to scope out a place to eat with a secret menu item for Color Factory visitors!
⬤ Once you go forward you can’t go back
In an attempt to keep the crowds moving and to clear up space throughout the museum, they have a rule. Once you go through a room, you can’t go backwards. So make sure you’re really happy with the photos you’ve taken in each room and that you’ve experienced everything you wanted to!
⬤ There are bathrooms along the way
If you missed out on heading to the bathroom before entering, there’s no rush to get through the museum so you can pee. They’ve got a few restrooms along the way — and they’re worth using. Even if you don’t need to go, you should pop into a few to see the decor! Having bathrooms along the way also makes it really easy for wardrobe changes! You know…for those that are obsessing over not wearing the same thing in all the Instagram photos they’re about to upload.
⬤ Read up on the artists and exhibits
This museum was innovated by Jordan Ferney, creator of the blog Oh Happy Day. Creative Director Leah Rosenberg and Art Director Erin Jang joined in, and The Color Factory was born! Thirteen artists and creators put this installation together, each designing their own room or collaboration. Reading the short descriptions of each installation will give you a better understanding of it, and the artists concept behind it. You’ll walk away with more of a connection and a greater experience.
⬤ Don’t forget your neighborhood map
The fun doesn’t stop when you exit! The Color Factory also created a Neighborhood Map for its visitors. The map has 17 locations around the city that each offer a mural, discount, secret menu item, or other fun surprise! For example, if you head to a marked alleyway in Chinatown, you’ll find a striped staircase, inspired by the tastes of the area. Nearby is an ice cream shop where you can ask for the Color Factory special, a green ice cream served in a monochromatic cone with matching sprinkles! A stop at Sutter Nails can get you a $20 technicolor Color Factory manicure.
It’s kind of like a scavenger hunt. But you need the map to show these places that you’re actually coming from the Color Factory, so don’t forget to grab one on your way out!
⬤ There’s no bag drop or coat check
I was coming to San Francisco for this event from a vacation on the East Coast, so I had been lugging around my 2 heavy carry-ons all day. I noticed on their website that they don’t have a luggage or coat check, and I wasn’t willing to pay the pricey fee of storing my bags in the airport. If you’re visiting this museum while traveling, and you need to put your luggage somewhere, a great option I found is through BAGBNB. This startup luggage storage network was easy to use and I only paid $6 per bag for the whole day! Their Union Square bag drop location was super close to the Color Factory, too!
The Color Factory is located at 575 Sutter Street, San Francisco. Tickets are $35 and children 2 and under are free. Public transit access is easiest using the BART system to the Powell Street Station near Union Square.
Were you lucky enough to get a ticket?
Which room looks like the most fun?
Tell me your thoughts in the comments!
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