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Celebrating Frank Oppenheimer’s 100th Birthday Aug. 14, 2012

For Immediate Release:
May 17, 2012

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Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367

Celebrating Frank Oppenheimer’s 100th Birthday Aug. 14, 2012

“No one ever flunked a museum”
Celebrating Frank Oppenheimer’s 100th birthday

[caption id="attachment_5969" align="alignleft" width="173" caption="Frank Oppenheimer"][/caption]

“In 1969, when San Francisco’s Exploratorium was created by Frank Oppenheimer, it overturned every regnant idea about science museums. There was no collection; there were no display cases; there wasn’t even a pretense that objects were special. They were expected to break, and a workshop was just off the museum floor. This was a museum without a proscenium. Visitors provided the forces that made these pendulums swing and balls roll. Two generations later, the concept thrives after having given birth to similar institutions all over the world.” -- Ed Rothstein/New York Times (March 13, 2010)

“No one ever flunked a museum,” said Frank Oppenheimer, the founder of the Exploratorium. Arguably his most famous quote, it embodies the vision and transformative ideas that revolutionized the museum field and spawned nearly 1,000 science museums around the world.

The Exploratorium remains at the vanguard, these days placing the tools of inquiry directly into the hands of visitors, from soldering irons to screwdrivers to sewing machines. The science-rich investigations happen right opposite the museum’s own machine shop.  After 10 years of tinkering inside the museum, the Exploratorium now exports that ability around the world from places as diverse as Arkansas to Saudi Arabia.

It is now nearly 100 years since Oppenheimer’s birth in New York City.  He was the younger brother of J. Robert Oppenheimer, “the father of the atom bomb,” and himself a gifted experimental physicist and Renaissance man, who also worked on the Manhattan project.  After the war he was blacklisted.
August 14, 1912, is the 100th anniversary of Oppenheimer’s birth in New York City. August 2012 to August 2013 is the year to recognize the man and his vision of science education that is captured by the Exploratorium in San Francisco. As Oppenheimer’s lasting monument, the Exploratorium has long been a leader in informal education and in museums.

•    Today the Exploratorium turns away two out of three teachers requesting professional development in its Teacher Institute due to high demand. This program has raised teacher retention from the national average of 50 percent to more than 90 percent among those who attend.  Educators from 48 states and 11 countries have benefitted from Exploratorium workshops since 1995 alone.

•    80% of the world’s science centers use Exploratorium-developed exhibits.  Since 1982, more than 2,500 exhibits have been installed in museums, universities, and organizations worldwide.

•    The museum received the National Science Foundation’s Public Service to Science Award in 2011, the first time a science museum has been honored. It’s the first independent museum on the Internet with more than 40,000 pages of original content and 12 million web visits to www.exploratorium.edu.

Oppenheimer’s ideas continue to resonate in the museum and science education fields even 27 years after his death.  The Exploratorium, the legacy Oppenheimer left behind, is poised to continue own transformation in 2013 as it relocates to Pier 15 on San Francisco’s waterfront extending the reach of its mission and making the 100th anniversary of Frank Oppenheimer’s birth as a fitting time to extol what he wrought.

In celebrating 100 years since Exploratorium founder Frank Oppenheimer's birth,  you can find new photos, facts, quotes, and more on our "Frank 100" Tumblr or by following the #frank100 hashtag on Twitter, through August 14,2012.

Video link:
NOVA – Palace of Delights (1983) Emmy nominated program devoted to the Exploratorium and its founder Frank Oppenheimer

Hours of Operation & New Evening Hours
Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm;  every Thursday evening adults only (ages 18 and up) 6pm-10pm.

$29 for adults, with lower rates for SF Bay Area residents, youth, seniors, students, teachers and the disabled. Tickets available at the door and advance tickets available online at www.exploratorium.edu/visit/tickets.

Getting Here
The Exploratorium is easily accessible by public transit. Convenient parking is available nearby. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit/location-directions

About the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is the global leader in informal learning, igniting curiosity and inspiring creativity in people of all ages. The world-renowned science museum creates original, interactive exhibits, on display at more than 1,000 science centers, museums and public spaces around the world. Dedicated to education reform in and out of the classroom, the Exploratorium is a premier professional development center for educators and a creator of award-winning educational resources. Since 1969, the Exploratorium has influenced generations of entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, teachers, students, children, museum professionals and everyday doers, reaching nearly 180 million people annually from around the globe. On April 17, 2013, the Exploratorium opened at Pier 15 in the heart of San Francisco's Embarcadero, where it will celebrate a new era of experiences that encourage critical thinking and awaken wonder for generations to come. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit.

Pier 15
San Francisco
California 94111
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Contact Us:
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367