Exploratorium: Home

Listen: Making Sense of Sound

For Immediate Release:
October 01, 2006

Media Available
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367

Listen: Making Sense of Sound

Exhibition Overview
Listen: Making Sense of Sound
is organized by subject area as follows:

A museum visitor tries
the Pinnae Play exhibit

Listening for Pleasure and Patterns
By listening with musicians’ ears, visitors recognize the patterns that provide the structural framework for musical composition. Experience the parallels between musical elements such as pitch, harmony, timbre, rhythm and physical concepts such as frequency and resonance. Pentaphone is an opportunity for visitors to improvise and collaborate in making music together—even if they can’t play an instrument. In the Listening Jukebox Room, visitors wrestle with the distinctions between noise and music as they explore a diverse menu of musical compositions from around the world.

Soundscapes in the Sonic Soup
Rainforests, factories, city streets and the Exploratorium itself are all soundscapes. From a human heartbeat to the sonic world of an automobile, visitors explore a range of soundscapes at varying scales — all heard experiences that evoke the questions Where? and What? At Sonic Storytelling, use everyday objects to make a horse gallop or a door creak in your own radio drama. At Equalizer, listen to the “sonic soup” of the Exploratorium through a microphone and change the sound by manipulating a 31-band graphic equalizer. Or immerse yourself in the soundscape art of artists-in-residence Ali Momeni, Nigel Helyer and Michelle Nagai.

Listening to Understand Each Other
For most people, “listening” is first associated with human speech and communication. At Eavesdropping, relax in a salon chair while listening to the conversations played through your hairdryer. Listen to three conversations at once — in a restaurant, at a hair salon and in a classroom — while considering which ones pull you in and why. Explore the production and interpretation of speech including attention and the constraints of listening, known as intermodal conflict. For instance, at Listening While Talking, pick up the telephone receiver to listen to the jokes. The trick is that you have to keep talking!

Listening Depends on Who We Are
What are the subjective, emotional, and cultural aspects of listening? Observe your own associations with sound – including comfort, threat, and fear – and gain an appreciation of the importance of sound in creating an emotional experience or mood. At Sound Memories, explore sound memories and their links to emotions. Visit the Listening Theater, which highlights real people – from car mechanics to therapists – who use listening in their lives.

Pathways and Impediments to Hearing
Explore the physiological processes of hearing. What are the pathways by which sound is transmitted to the brain for processing? Learn about some surprising alternate routes like bone conduction at Sound Bite. Experience sound conducted through your jawbones instead of through your ears. Hear the way a cochlea-implant-wearer hears; experience tinnitus and other noise-induced hearing loss symptoms. Take a fantastic voyage through the middle and inner ear and gain a new appreciation for how this amazing mechanism collects and interprets vibrations as sound.

Listening Skills
By taking a sonic journey through a San Francisco BART station with a person who is blind, visitors gain an appreciation of the skills needed to navigate by ear. Exhibits demonstrate how we use our “two ears and one brain” to localize sound. At Reversed Ears find out how your world would sound different if your left and right ears were reversed. Try on some wild listening contraptions to find out. Or accept the challenge to “out quiet” yourself in order to discover the importance of being quiet in the feedback loop of listening.

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
(415) 528-4444 telephone

Contact Us:
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367