Bring a sense of adventure, trust in yourself, and a pair of socks! Try to pay attention to the textures all around you—what do you hear, feel, and smell? Don’t worry—our Dome team will be keeping an eye on you throughout your journey, ready to offer hints or guidance.
Can you find your way in total darkness guided only by your sense of touch?
August F. Coppola sought to answer this question when he created the Tactile Dome in 1971. A member of the Participatory Art movement, which involved participants as part of the exhibits, Coppola developed the Tactile Dome with Carl Day. The two believed that facilitating touch and interaction between people and art have the power to change lifestyles—even whole societies.
Through the decades, the Dome has lived a storied life. In the 70s, Visitors would venture through it naked believing that foregoing clothes would heighten their senses in the dark (don’t worry, the Dome at Pier 15 was built in 2013). In the 1990s, an area in the Dome was filled with rubber rats, delighting some children while scaring others.
These days, the Dome is an integral part of the Exploratorium—it’s literally built into the foundation of Pier 15—and it’s run by our trusted Visitor Services team.
Coppola… that name sounds familiar.
August F. Coppola (1934—2009) was father of actor Nicolas Cage and brother of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola. He was an arts advocate and taught literature throughout California, including at San Francisco State University.
Ready for your own adventure in the Dome?
What to expect when you’re inside
The Dome is a tactile sculpture that encourages visitors to use their non-visual senses to find their way. Try to pay attention to the textures all around you—what do you hear, feel, and smell? The Dome team will be keeping an eye on you throughout your journey, ready to offer hints or guidance.
What to bring and what to leave behind
Bring a sense of adventure, trust in yourself, and a pair of socks! You’ll be asked to leave your belongings in the waiting area of the Dome, including jewelry, phones, and shoes.
“See” you in the Dome!