In the Speed of Sound exhibit, a light and bell on the Festival Pavilion at Fort Mason let visitors learn how distance affects perceptions of sound. (Amy Snyder/Exploratorium)
If you haven’t reveled in the rust, barnacles, and salt-water sips of the Outdoor Exploratorium, run, do not walk, to Fort Mason.
Fourth of July weekend is your last chance to taste, touch, and take in the Exploratorium’s temporary exhibits at Fort Mason before they’re removed from the national park site. (Yes, that’s just around the corner from the 9:30 p.m. fireworks show at Pier 39.)
From Tasting the Tides, a drinking fountain that lets visitors experience the surprising range of salt content in local waters, to Pier Piling Pivot, a movable piling that unveils the extraordinary range of plant and animal life making an aquatic home at Fort Mason’s piers, the exhibits emphasize noticing and deeply observing the natural world.
The eight exhibits displayed at Fort Mason are what remain of a 20-exhibit collection that opened in 2009. Funded by the National Science Foundation, the exhibits put a lens on the natural environment around them and were created by the Exploratorium in partnership with the National Park Service and the Fort Mason Center.
The project marked a dramatic shift for us, bringing the Exploratorium from a largely indoor-focused institution to a civic player that mixed informal science learning with urban design. The project also served as a launch pad for today’s Exploratorium Studio for Public Spaces.
Of course, you can also enjoy several other outdoor (and indoor) exhibits by visiting us at Pier 15. The Exploratorium will be open all holiday weekend.