I love San Francisco’s The Exploratorium and have been bringing my kids to it for nearly two decades. I’m sad that it moved out of its beautiful Palace of Fine Arts location, but I’m excited to visit the new $300m site at Pier 15, which has far more space (three times larger at 330,000 square foot), and far more exhibits.
– 600 exhibits of which 150 are new.
– 1.5 acres of free outdoor space with outdoor exhibits, a restaurant, food carts and the Exploratorium Store with interactive exhibits.
– There are six main galleries: Human behavior; Seeing and listening; Living Systems; Maker Culture; an all-glass Observatory; and the Wired Pier filled with sensors.
– Classic exhibits have been upgraded, such as the Tornado (above), and the famous Tactile Dome where visitors move in total darkness using only their sense of touch.
– The Exploratorium has a goal of becoming the largest net-zero energy museum in the world.
– Lots of art installations such as:
Fog Bridge, a large-scale, immersive outdoor fog installation on a 150 ft. long pedestrian bridge by Japanese interdisciplinary artist Fujiko Nakaya; and Aeolian Harp by Doug Hollis, which captures the wind dynamics of the site.
Also: The museum’s After Dark series on Thursday evenings is wonderful. I attended one on Gastronomy: The Science Of Food – Gastronomy Night at The Exploratorium
– Special cut price rates for locals. And five free days: Groundhog Day (February 2); Pi Day (March 14); Mothers’ Day (2nd Sunday in May); Engineering Day (last Sunday in September); and Founder’s Day (2nd Sunday in October).
I recommend getting an annual membership because you can pop in anytime and bring a guest.
On April 17 opening day there are free events throughout the day and into the evening.
Here’s some excerpts from the day’s schedule:
9:00-9:45am – The Exploratorium will dedicate its new home with a ceremony viewable from some parts of the Plaza. Speakers include Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, Mayor Ed Lee, Exploratorium Board Chair George Cogan, and Executive Director Dennis Bartels.
9:45-10:00am – New Exploratorium Bell
Since the museum’s founding in 1969, Exploratorium Explainers have traditionally closed the museum by ringing a bell. The assembled speakers will piece together the intricate crown of a bronze bell created by artist Nick DiPhillipo and cast at The Crucible, a hands-on industrial arts organization in Oakland. Each piece represents individuals and organizations that have helped the museum on its journey to Pier 15. An Explainer will then ring the completed bell, which will be permanently installed to mark daily opening/closing in the Exploratorium’s Outdoor Gallery.
10:00am– Exploratorium’s New Home Opens to the Public.
10:00am until dark – Rangoli with artist Purvi Shah and volunteers from the India Community Center in Milpitas, CA
10:00am until dark – Outdoor demonstrations and activities with Exploratorium Explainers In addition to hands-on activities for visitors waiting in line, Explainers will provide free interactive demonstrations such as Observing Clouds and Finding North.
11:00am-2:00pm – Visitors can meet with Explorables volunteers to make free Quacking Cups and Glove-A-Phones on the Embarcadero Plaza or Light Boxes and Spectroscopes inside the ticketed area of the Outdoor Gallery.
5:00-7:00pm – Hands-on Activities with Explorables Volunteers Repeats.
7:00pm – KPOO Live Broadcast with Donald Lacy. Share your favorite Exploratorium story with KPOO-89.5FM listeners.
8:30pm and 9:30pm – This World Made It Self (2013). A large-scale multimedia performance by animator, designer and artist Miwa Matreyek. As the artist moves behind the screen, her shadow becomes the protagonist in a fantastical world of her own creation.
8:30-11:00pm – Emergence (2013). At the close of the Exploratorium’s Opening Day, acclaimed creative technology innovators Obscura Digital will transform the façade of historic Pier 15 into a luminous portal revealing complex micro and macro phenomena.
To accompany Emergence, Obscura will present an interactive thermal imaging wall (in cooperation with Flir) on the side of the Exploratorium’s main entrance, where visitors can see their heat signature projected in real-time, at large scale, with brilliant color.