Get To Know San Francisco’s Unofficial LSD Museum

Psychedelic Art © Pixaby
Psychedelic Art © Pixaby
San Francisco has a rich history of experimenting with hallucinogens, from Ken Kesey’s Acid Tests in the 1960s to rumors of microdosing to improve productivity in today’s startup culture. A major representation of that history stands in the home of San Franciscan Mark McCloud, owner of the unofficial LSD Museum.

Also known as the Blotter Barn or the Institute of Illegal Images, McCloud’s house is located on 20th Street between Mission and Capp. The house preserves over 33,000 sheets of LSD blotter, treating them like tiny little works of art. Most of the sheets are framed and hanging on McCloud’s walls, decorating the home with vibrant colors and patterns, and the rest are kept safe in binders. The house also features a perforation board, allowing McCloud to turn any work of art sized 7.5 by 7.5 inches into 900 pieces, as is typical for LSD blotter sheets.

Blotter art © DEA Employee/Wikipedia

McCloud has been living in San Francisco since 1971, sometimes making blotter art, and working with a variety of artists and creatives. ‘December 8th 1971, I took the most powerful substance on earth… I happened to fall out of a window onto my kisser and die in the middle of it, and thanks to the LSD, I was reborn. That’s why I collect blotter – a small thank you for the thing that saved me,’ McCloud tells Wired. He goes on to explain, ‘What fascinates me about blotter is like what fascinates me about all good art – it changes your mind.’ Watch Wired’s interview with McCloud below for a peek into the house and the collection and a chance to get to know McCloud himself.

Back in Kesey’s day, LSD was still legal – but it was officially made illegal in 1968. McCloud has faced multiple police raids and attempts to shut down the LSD Museum, but he has managed to escape conviction each time. The FBI has raided the place, but apparently, since the blotters have been exposed to oxygen and ultraviolet rays of light, their psychotropic chemicals have been neutralized. The police’s inability to shut the museum down is made all the more ironic by the fact that it is rumored to be a collection larger than the entire collection of the US Drug Enforcement Agency.

DEA van © Brett Neilson/Flickr

Today, McCloud sells blotter prints (not infused with LSD) on his Blotter Barn website, including tiny books full of the prints that feature over 100 pages each. While the museum is not currently open to the public, over the years, McCloud has allowed visitors inside at a variety of times by appointment.