About Us

As a leader in informal education and lifelong learning, the Exploratorium addresses critical education issues on a global scale, providing people with the tools, training, and confidence they need to explore how the world works.

Our goal is to change how the world learns by offering authentic experiences and transformative educational opportunities to people of all ages, bringing the excitement of discovery to both local and international audiences.

Located in a spectacular new campus on Piers 15/17 in San Francisco, our platinum LEED building welcomes visitors to our museum floor, where people of all ages can explore unique works of art, join in exciting events and activities, and experience hundreds of participatory exhibits. Our award-winning workshops, apps, websites, and community partnerships serve teachers, parents, educators, students, and learners throughout the country—and around the world.

A Note to Our Friends and Partners

In 2013, we moved from our original home, tucked away in a lovely but quiet corner of the city, to Pier 15 on the Embarcadero, next to the bustling center of downtown San Francisco. Physically, we could go no farther, perched, as we now are, right over the waters of the bay. But symbolically, our new location reflects the Exploratorium’s spirit of access and outreach, and our ongoing efforts to encourage and encompass a global community of thinkers, learners, and doers.

Ours is a creative culture, representing an incredible collection of thoughtful learning designers, all of whom express themselves in different ways—through art, education, science, and community; via exhibits, online learning, tinkering activities, and hands-on programs. Our rich diversity gives us a unique point of view, and we are learning to build on that strength more and more. It allows us to address pressing issues with like-minded individuals and institutions around the world, while simultaneously learning from them about some of the biggest challenges we all face in creating powerful learning experiences. And, as you will see in this annual report, this capability has driven us to accomplish great things.

This past year, 2014, marked our first full year in our new home. Certainly, there were growing pains, but we worked through many of the challenges and achieved what we set out to do, and more. We finished our first year in the black, welcomed more visitors than ever before, and worked with more educators and artists and scientists than in any year past.

This annual report acknowledges the amazing people and partnerships that helped us along the way. We are grateful for your support and, with your ongoing help, look forward to an exciting new year.

Dennis M Bartels, PhD Dennis M. Bartels, PhD

Executive Director



Year One at the Piers

How far have we come in our first year at Pier 15? We’ve multiplied our impact!

  • 2X

    Free-Day Admissions (8,000 per day)


    Visitors (1.1 million)


    Free Student Field Trip Visits (52,000)

  • 3X

    Space Filled with Exhibits & Experiences (330,000 sq. ft.)


    Teachers Served (50,000+)


    Membership (44,000)


    Adult Visitors at After Dark events (60,000)

We were honored...

  • Platinum LEED certification
    awarded to our building

    Outstanding Achievement
    recognized for outstanding achievement by the California Preservation Foundation

    Top Honors
    received in the 2014 Urban Land Institute Global Awards for Excellence

    first museum to win National Science Foundation honor

    International Recognition
    more than 80% of the world’s science centers use Exploratorium-designed exhibits

And our community grew

  • 2,000 Children & Families
    received free science workshops

    70,000 Social Media Followers
    on Facebook, Twitter, and more

  • 13 Million Visits
    to exploratorium.edu to view 50,000 pages of original content


Our thanks to the individuals, partners, donors, and supporters who continue to help us expand our reach, attain our goals, and impact science literacy around the world. We cannot do this without you.


The fiscal health of the Exploratorium is of paramount importance to the work we do, and the impact we can make around the world.

  • Revenue Pie


    • 33.4% Private Contributions
    • 10% Government Grants
    • 56.6% Earned Income
    Expenses Pie


    Program Services
    • 52.8% Visitor, Learner, & Educator Programs
    • 13.1% Global Studios
    • 5.7% Admissions and Other
    • 5% Store Expenses
    Support Services
    • 14.2% General & Administrative
    • 9.2% Fundraising & Membership
  • Operating Revenues and Expenses


    Operating Revenues

    Private Contributions
    Government Grants
    Earned Income

    Total Operating Revenues


    Operating Expenses

    Program Services
    Visitor, Learner, and Educator programs
    Global Studios
    Admissions and Other
    Store Expenses
    Support Services
    General and Administrative
    Fundraising and Membership

    Total Operating Expenses


    Financial Position



    Cash and Cash Equivalents
    Property and Equipment

    Total Assets



    Accounts Payable
    Other Accrued Expenses
    Deferred Revenue
    Other Long-Term Liabilities

    Total Liabilities


    Net Assets

    Temporarily Restricted
    Permanently Restricted

    Total Net Assets


    Total Liabilities and Net Assets



  • Project Director: Sabrina Smith
  • Project Manager/Writer-Editor: Ruth Tepper Brown
  • At the Exploratorium: Mark Andrews, Online Media Director; Diane Burk, Art Director; Ellyn Hament, Editorial Director; Amy Snyder, Senior Photographer; Jenny Villagran, Online Media Developer
  • Marketing Partner: Mike Popalardo, Next Steps Marketing
  • Web Design & Development: Monsoonco.com: Ajay Gopalan, Product/Strategy Manager; Andreas Tretner, Creative Director; Nik Bresnick, Designer; John Katsnelson, Lead Web; Bob Conlon, Dig Vargas, Elaine Yu, Diego Diaz, Diego Ferreyra, Diego Ferez, Web Development
  • Image Credits: Photos by Amy Snyder, Gayle Laird, and Shawn Lani
    Science of Sharing was developed with funding from the National Science Foundation. The 3rd Biannual Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) STEM Conference was presented with the support of Chevron. Science for Monks is supported by the John Templeton Foundation.
  • Exploratorium® is a registered trademark and service mark of the Exploratorium, San Francisco, California