01.19.2004 | 01.01.2004 | 10.01.2003 |


SAN FRANCISCO (October 1, 2003) - Step into the Musée Mécanique at Pier 45 and revisit your childhood memories, or create new ones, at this unique San Francisco attraction. Located in the heart of Fisherman's Wharf, the museum features more than 200 antique, coin-operated entertainment machines-one of the largest privately held collections of its kind in the world.

Among other amusements, you'll find Laughing Sal, a carnival "Fat Lady" with a maniacal laugh, Grand-Ma fortune tellers, a Wurlitzer orchestrion, and the Arm Wrestler, a strength-tester beaten by Julie Andrews in the Disney film "The Princess Diaries." Admission to the museum is free, but to enjoy these automated mechanical games and musical instruments as they were originally intended, drop in a quarter and see them spring to life.

" I collected my first mechanical coin-operated machine when I was 10 years old," says collection owner Edward G. Zelinsky, a fourth-generation San Franciscan. "I've had a love affair with them ever since, and want to share the joy with others."

An inveterate collector, Zelinsky acquired many of the machines-including Laughing Sal-from George Whitney Sr., owner of Playland-At-The-Beach, San Francisco's landmark amusement park, which closed in 1972. He has found others, throughout the world, including working models and automations from England, and restored them to mint operating condition.

Musée Mécanique's successful relocation to Pier 45 from its long-time home at the Cliff House, at Ocean Beach, is a testament to the collection, its owner, and the public. When the museum was being evicted by the National Park Service in 2002 to make way for a major renovation of the historic site, fans waged a campaign to "save the Musée," including a petition with 25,000 signatures.

Buoyed by the support, Zelinsky decided to find a new home for his collection instead of putting it in storage, where it would languish and deteriorate. In late 2002, Musée Mécanique reopened at Pier 45 amid the hustle-and-bustle of Fisherman's Wharf, allowing visitors and residents to recapture the past for the price of a quarter.

But nostalgic San Franciscans and aging Boomers aren't the only people who enjoy the museum, said Daniel G. Zelinsky, Ed's son and full-time manager of Musée Mécanique. Throughout the years, tens of thousands of families and schoolchildren have delighted in playing the mechanical games and listening to the lively music. "They get a big smile on their face," Dan said. "It's a fun experience."

Located at the corner of Taylor Street and the Embarcadero, Musée Mécanique is open daily, year-round. It is easily accessible via the "F" line trolleys, which run from Market Street to the Wharf along the Embarcadero, and the Powell Street cable car line from Union Square. Public parking is also available at Pier 45. For more information about the Musée Mécanique, call (415) 346-2000 or visit www.museemecanique.com.


Ed Zelinsky is available for interviews about Musée Mécanique and his other collections.
To arrange an interview, contact Terry Koenig, Koenig & Associates, (415) 883-5198
High resolution digital photographs are available upon request.

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