EDUCATIONAL PARTNERSHIP B RINGS 35 EXHIBITS FROM
THE EXPLORATORIUM IN SAN FRANCISCO TO MANHATTAN
Exploratorium/AMNH, a collection of 35 engaging, interactive exhibits on loan from the Exploratorium in San Francisco, invites visitors of all ages — from preschoolers to professors — to spin, swing, sculpt, push, and play as they explore dynamic and intriguing physical phenomena. The exhibition, which opens at the American Museum of Natural History on Saturday, January 31, 2004, and remains on view through August 15, examines natural wonders from swirling storms and shifting sand dunes to light and reflections. Exploratorium/AMNH marks the Exploratorium and AMNH joining together in an educational partnership, bringing exhibits from the Exploratorium to Manhattan.
Dr. Goéry Delacôte, the Exploratorium’s director for the past 12 years, began partnering with museums in the US and around the world to bring collections of the Exploratorium’s successful, innovative and interactive exhibits to cities as diverse as Ft. Worth, Paris and Beijing, Santiago, and now Manhattan. The Exploratorium currently partners with over 15 museums around the world, providing thematic clusters of its exhibits, sometimes on a rotating basis. In San Francisco, the Exploratorium’s rough-and-ready learning laboratory contains over 650 exhibits, with 500 on view at any one time.
An expanding network of museums lease or purchase the Explortorium’s innovative exhibits — bundled with the Exploratorium’s expertise in how to use them as a teaching curriculum for students, teachers and the general public.
This entrepreneurial educational model makes sense for both the Exploratorium and those institutions that become part of the network. The Exploratorium provides over thirty years of educational expertise by exporting the Exploratorium’s innovative approaches to exhibit design. This is an idea with long-term promise and implications as a new educational model for museums. Meanwhile, earnings from the Exploratorium’s educational exports go to support the Exploratorium’s educational mission.
On the financial side, participating museums benefit from the cost advantage of renting versus buying exhibits, as well as saving on the usual high rental costs of conventional, shorter-term, traveling shows that currently dominate the museum field. From the educational side, museums receive access to the unique know-how of the Exploratorium that goes with each collection of exhibits for rent. The plan is to develop large-scale networks of museums, supported regionally, and numbered in the dozens.
Among partner museums in this venture are the Paris Explor@dome, which opened on March 31, 1999; the Ft. Worth Museum of Science and History (July 1999); Reuben H. Fleet Science Center, San Diego, CA (July, 2000), and GWIZ - The Gulfcoast Wonder and Imagination Zone, Sarasota, FL (January, 2001). Other additions include The Museum of Discovery, Ft. Lauderdale, FL (2002); Rochester Museum and Science Center, Rochester, NY (2001); COSI, Toledo, Ohio (2002), the Fresno Metropolitan Museum (2003), the California Science Center, Los Angeles (2003), and the American Museum of Natural History, New York City (2004).
Among those onboard internationally who have purchased Exploratorium exhibits within the network is Sony ExploraScience Odaiba (Tokyo) in 2002, and another Sony sponsored project, Sony ExploraScience, Beijing, a gift to the children of China, which opened in October 2000. It is at the heart of the old and the new: the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the equivalent of China’s new Madison Avenue. Other cities in the network include Heidelberg, Germany; Valencia, Spain; Lisbon, Portugal; Rotherham, England; Mexacali, Mexico; and Santiago, Chile.