exploratorium

We Make the Treasure

by Paul Ramirez Jonas

June 19, 2014–January 2015

Exploratorium Pier 15

At We Make the Treasure, the second installment in our Over the Water series of large-scale commissioned artworks, visitors were invited to explore the value of objects lost and recovered, above and below the water line. By traversing layers of present-day experience and forgotten history, users were able to investigate the visible and invisible forces that make something a treasure. 

Ephemeral, pulsing lines of air bubbles broke the surface of the water between Piers 15 and 17, suggesting the ghostly outline of the Beeswing, a schooner that sank on February 17, 1863, as it returned to San Francisco from Monterey. Near the bubbling wreck sat a rowboat loaded with mysterious cargo. Visitors were invited to interact with the imagined treasure of the Beeswing by using a crane to find and exchange a haul comprised of coin-sized objects of indeterminate value. 

We Make the Treasure was organized by the Exploratorium’s Center for Art & Inquiry in collaboration with the Studio for Public Space. Nato Thompson, chief curator of Creative Time in New York, served as advising curator.