The year-end holiday season needn't focus entirely on shopping and eating. There's food for the imagination currently on the menu at museums throughout the Bay Area. And, of course, museum cafes and stores if you just can't help yourself.

Several of the year's most intriguing exhibits will be closing in January and February, and they offer a respite from the frantic holidays. They offer bold colors, discoveries for young and old and everything from Victorian-era watercolors to the movie magic of Disney and "Star Wars."

Did we mention fun? You can watch video clips from the classic "Bambi," take a simulated ride in the Millennium Falcon and, if you're very quiet, listen to Bubble Wrap popping.

R2-D2 poses for photos in the entrance for Millennium Falcon Experience the during the press opening for "Star Wars: Where Science Meets
R2-D2 poses for photos in the entrance for Millennium Falcon Experience the during the press opening for "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination," at the Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013. The pop culture extravaganza, which stars a life size replica of the Millennium Falcon cockpit among other geek Holy Grails from the "Star Wars" universe, brings the George Lucas mythos back home to the Bay Area where it all began. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group) (Patrick Tehan)

Here are some recommendations, listed in the order the exhibits close. Note that schedules may vary during Christmas and New Year's holiday weeks.

Cantor Arts Center

Exhibit: "Carrie Mae Weems: Three Decades of Photography and Video"

Weems is one of the country's most lauded photographers, and this first-ever retrospective finally shows the breadth of her work over more than 30 years. Her best known images depict the black family and racial stereotypes, but she covers the world as she explores and often contradicts cultural myths.

Weems has been described as a sociologist, cultural anthropologist, folklorist. But her quest, with her camera, seems open and simple, recalling the mission of the museum where the exhibit opened: "The vision is to inspire people through art to look at their world in new ways."

Details: Through Jan. 5; 328 Lomita Drive, Stanford University (at Museum Way, off the Palm Drive entrance to the campus); 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays, until 8 p.m. Thursday; free; 650-723-4177, http://museum-stanford.edu.

De Young Museum

Exhibit: "David Hockney: A Bigger Exhibition"

What has David Hockney been up to lately? Plenty, from sketches on iPhones and iPads to wall-size, boldly colored images of his native England as well as Yosemite. No swimming pools or palm trees here -- he has moved on from the icons that made him famous nearly 50 years ago -- but an astonishing variety in a range of media. Don't miss the more traditional watercolors and charcoal drawings, and the videos that follow a country lane in England from season to season.

Details: Through Jan. 20; 50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco; 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays; $15-$45; 415-750-3600, http://deyoung.famsf.org.

Legion of Honor

Exhibit: "Anders Zorn: Sweden's Master Painter"

This is the kind of sumptuous, colorful, traditional exhibit that fits the Legion of Honor setting perfectly. But it's also a real discovery. Zorn, a national treasure in Sweden, was internationally successful a century ago but largely forgotten in recent years.

It's a big, leisurely exhibit with portraits of wealthy society figures, evocative large scale watercolors of lakes and rivers and charming scenes of folk culture. They're accomplished if not always inspired. But look for his dark, moody portrait "Monsieur Mauri" and the summer solstice depiction in "Midsummer Dance."

Details: Through Feb. 2; 100 34th Ave. in Lincoln Park, San Francisco; 9:30 a.m.-5:15 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; Dec. 24 and 31 until 4 p.m.: closed Mondays except Dec. 23 and 30; $10-$15; 415-750-3600; http://legionofhonor.famsf.org.

San Jose Museum of Art

Exhibit: "Hidden Heroes: The Genius of Everyday Things"

Here's the perfect lower-tech exhibit to balance the high-tech museum a block away in downtown San Jose. Assembled by Germany's Vitra Design Museum, it offers a fascinating array exploring the roots of industrial design -- if you think of clothespins, light bulbs, adhesive bandages and Scotch tape as industries.

There are discoveries everywhere you look. You'll learn just how zippers work ("like a stack of soup bowls"), what writing instrument Marcel Bich gave his name to in the 1950s, and that the Sealed Air Corporation in New Jersey first manufactured Bubble Wrap. (You'll hear it popping, too.) And guess what German housewife Melitta Bentz created in 1908 with a metal beaker, blotting paper, ground coffee and hot water?

Details: Through Feb. 2; 110 S. Market St., San Jose; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday; $5-$8; 408-271-6840, www.sanjosemuseumofart.org.

The Walt Disney Family Museum

Exhibit: "Water to Paper, Paint to Sky: The Art of Tyrus Wong"

When this exhibit opened in August, Tyrus Wong, at the age of 102, was still creating art. No matter that the 1942 Disney production of "Bambi" is his best known work, Wong has filled a lifetime with paintings that combines bold strokes of calligraphy with delicate watercolor. He's done storyboards for other movie studios, commercial art -- and even kites.

Wong's style was the inspiration for the more advanced artistic atmosphere of "Bambi," and the exhibit offers a chance to look at his original sketches, see clips from the film and follow video interviews with the artist. The exhibit is a treasure.

Details: Through Feb. 3; 104 Montgomery St. in the Presidio, San Francisco; 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday through Monday; $17-$25 for Disney museum entrance plus $5 for Wong exhibit includes; 415-345-6800, www.waltdisney.org.

Oakland Museum of California

Exhibit: "Above and Below: Stories from Our Changing Bay"

The first big image you see in this exhibit is worth the price of admission. It's a breathtaking, virtual fly-through across the Bay, as if all the water had drained out and you're peering at the bottom. If you've always wondered what was beneath the surface, you can see how shallow the East Bay mud flats are, and how deep -- as much as 360 feet -- the water is near the Golden Gate.

Above and around the Bay, the exhibit depicts the history of islands such as Alcatraz (the prison and the Indian takeover in the 1960s) and Angel Island (the immigration station and the Nike missile site during the Cold War). There's even a section on the salt evaporation ponds and their transformation back to Bay wetlands. But over all, it's a downbeat assessment of the Bay's health.

Details: Through Feb. 23; 1000 Oak St., Oakland; 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday, to 9 p.m. Friday; $6-$15; 510-318-8453, www.museumca.org.

The Tech Museum of Innovation

Exhibit: "Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination"

Forget you're in a museum, if you like, and just immerse yourself in the "Star Wars" entertainment empire. There are character costumes from many of the movies, an array of amazingly detailed (and surprisingly large-scale) spaceship models and attempts to connect movie magic with science. ("Robot surgeons: Fantasy? Yes, and no.")

There are plenty of hands-on experiments, as you'd expect from The Tech. The most fun, for all ages, might be examining the models while watching scenes from films in which they're used. There's also a mock-up of the Millennium Falcon for simulated rides; plan to reserve your ticket at least a week in advance.

Details: Through Feb. 23; 201 S. Market St., San Jose; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily; $12-$22, $5 additional for Millennium Falcon simulated ride; 408-294-8324, www.thetech.org.