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Keepers of the Steps Exhibition

March 1 - July 31

Presented by Keepers of the Steps, a cultural program of the United Irish Cultural Center in partnership with the San Francisco Historical Society: Irish Dance—Celebrating the Roots, Rhythms, and Rituals of the San Francisco Irish

Check the museum website for SPECIFIC OPERATION HOURS and any holidays SCHEDULES: https://www.sfhistory.org/

The United Irish Cultural Center’s Keepers of the Steps program is delighted to announce an inaugural collaboration with San Francisco Historical Society just in time for Irish American Heritage Month in March as they present Irish Dance—Celebrating the Roots, Rhythms, and Rituals of the San Francisco Irish. This special exhibit explores how Irish dancing has fostered community and celebrated culture since the city’s inception.

During the bustling days of the Gold Rush, dance halls and entertainment enlivened the community and allowed Irish immigrants to hold on to and share their heritage. The San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade hails from this era and is the oldest St. Patrick’s Day west of the Mississippi. Cultural preservation was further enhanced and fostered by the Gaelic League was formed near the turn of the 20th century and incorporated Irish dance activities and competitions into prominent cultural events. Dance schools began to grow in numbers. And by the 1970s competitive Irish dancing became further organized under the Irish Dance Commission in Dublin, Ireland, and San Francisco played host to the first annual championship competition in what has since been known as the Western Region—the Western Region Oireachtas.

Irish dancing is a centuries-old tradition native to Ireland with documented origins dating back to the mid-1700s, and the art form continues to capture the hearts of dancers and onlookers alike around the world. Enjoy local stories and history, dances shoes and costumes, and social and competitive highlights as you explore more than 150 years of Irish Dance in the San Francisco Bay Area. Join us as we celebrate the roots, rhythms, and rituals of one of the most enduring traditions of the Irish heritage.

The Irish Dance history exhibition pairs nicely with the SF Historical Society’s concurrent exhibit where they team up with the Museum of Performance + Design for another inaugural collaboration, San Francisco On Stage.

The exhibit features highlights from MP + D’s collection of historical artifacts from the worlds of dance, music, and theater, including costumes, programs, videos of performances, and other unique memorabilia.

The exhibit will be on display at the San Francisco Historical Society Museum (608 Commercial Street), the site of the first Branch Mint in the West in the heart of San Francisco’s historic core.


March 1
July 31
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