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8 Reasons the Exploratorium Is San Francisco’s Most Iconic Travel Destination

8 Reasons the Exploratorium Is San Francisco’s Most Iconic Travel Destination

In April of 2013, San Francisco’s Exploratorium—the world’s most experimental and interactive museum—packed up its 43-year history and moved across the city to a new home at Pier 15 along San Francisco’s waterfront. Since then, more than 1 million people have visited the Exploratorium’s spectacular new location to touch, tinker, and play with more than 600 interactive exhibits. So, why is the Exploratorium San Francisco’s most iconic destination? 

1. It's the perfect place to see the city and the bay. The Exploratorium’s new home is on San Francisco’s historic waterfront, between the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf. With sweeping views of the city skyline, Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge. and Treasure Island from our glass-walled Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery, you’ll see more of San Francisco—and see it differently—than you will anywhere else.

2. It was born out of the mind-expanding idealism of the 1960s and is still a beacon of innovation today. Founded by Frank Oppenheimer in 1969, the Exploratorium is rooted in San Francisco’s history of creativity and independent spirit, and our ethos of experimentation and interactivity has made us a world influencer. If you want to understand San Francisco culture—then and now—start at the Exploratorium.

3. It's been a playground for generations of entrepreneurs, makers, scientists, artists, and educators. Our engaging interactive exhibits combine elements of art, science, and human perception, and have inspired influential people to see the world differently. Come see what all the fuss is about.

4. It's a learning laboratory where people of all ages can tinker and play. Whether you’re 6 or 64, our hands-on experiences ignite curiosity and lead to profound learning. We’re always growing and changing, just like you.

5. We love science, but we’re not just a science museum. Some of the most inspired and thought-provoking artists of our day—including Brian Eno, Tauba Auerbach, Ruth Asawa, and Amy Balkin—have created works in the vibrant laboratory that is the Exploratorium. Our Artist-in-Residence program celebrates its 40th anniversary in 2014.

6. Kids love us, but we’re not just for kids.  Every week, adults 18 and over can experience the Exploratorium during our Thursday evening hours from 6–10 p.m. Where else can you sip cocktails, dance in a tornado, build a scribbling machine, and make your own stop-motion animations, all in the same night? Our signature After Dark events (on the first Thursday of every month) are one of the few truly interactive adults-only experiences in San Francisco. 

7. We’re not just here, we’re everywhere. Our Global Studios team collaborates on projects all over the globe—from Arkansas to Abu Dhabi. Eighty percent of science centers internationally use Exploratorium exhibits, programs, or ideas. Where else in the world have you seen us?

8. You can get into it—for free. Exploratorium exhibits and experiences spill into the free public space along San Francisco’s vibrant Embarcadero, giving curious passersby a taste of the wonderland that lies inside. Immerse yourself in mist on Fujiko Nakaya’s Fog Bridge at noon every day, take a ride in the Rickshaw Obscura, or explore Market Days—a series of free summertime events that turn the Exploratorium’s public plaza into a marketplace of ideas and experiences, just steps away from the Ferry Plaza farmer’s market.


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