Skip to main content

The Exploratorium Celebrates 35th Annual Pi (π) Day With Math Artist John Sims

The Exploratorium Celebrates 35th Annual Pi (π) Day With Math Artist John Sims

A week of performance, poetry, and pi with John Sims in residency.

Images and video of past Pi Day celebrations are available in the Exploratorium Press Office Google folder.

SAN FRANCISCO (March 1, 2022)—On Monday, March 14 (3.14), 2022, the Exploratorium will open our doors to celebrate Pi Day—an annual holiday invented by the nonprofit museum to honor the mathematical constant and neverending number (and Albert Einstein’s birthday). Pi Day first began at the non-profit institution in 1988 and has become an internationally-celebrated event for math enthusiasts, educators, and curious people globally. 

The Exploratorium is hosting John Sims, creator of The Pi Day Anthem, for the month of March as an artist in residency to showcase a select body of works inspired by pi and the intersections of mathematics, art, and activism. The centerpiece of his residency will be a live performance of poetry, film, and music created and curated by Sims for this year’s Pi Day. 

Visitors can celebrate Pi Day in person with a parade, free pie slices, and a special Pi Day Program that will also be broadcast online. They will be treated to a performance, activities, and demonstrations about what pi is, why we celebrate it, and how it’s used in science and art today. 

Pi Day was initiated at the Exploratorium by the late staff physicist, tinkerer, and media specialist, Larry Shaw. Shaw also created and installed the “Pi Shrine,” site of the annual Pi procession at the museum. Staff and visitors form a line and wind around the museum towards the Shrine. The procession ends with all participants circumnavigating the Pi Shrine 3.14 times while singing “Happy Birthday” to Albert Einstein.

“We are so excited to host Pi Day in person for the first time in three years! Hosting John Sims in residence marks how special the occasion is, given his extensive work making pi and mathematics inclusive and accessible through their aesthetics and social relevance.” Said Sam Sharkland, Program Developer in charge of producing Pi Day events. “Pi Day was the first program I was a part of after joining the Exploratorium, and it holds a special place in my heart as I know it does for many of our members and math enthusiasts around the world.”

John Sims’ time in residency expands the impact and access to the Exploratorium’s interest in art and math. For the month of March, the Exploratorium will display two of Sims’ pi inspired quilts (Seeing Pi and Civil Pi) as well as a selection of math art videos created by Sims. 

"Mathematics is a beautiful language that helps us explore the physical world and beyond. So when the time comes to honor Pi Day, every March 14th, there is an opportunity to not only celebrate the digits of Pi, or all things circular, pizza, and fruit pies, but also there is chance to honor the presence of mathematics in nature, art and the culture that shape who we have become as humans."  - John Sims

Visitors will have the opportunity to see Sims’ work in the week preceding Pi Day at our After Dark (ages 18+) evening program on Thursday, March 10th with an artist’s keynote presentation, on Saturday, March 12th during a Cinema Arts presentation of Artis Mathematicae, and on Sunday, March 13th alongside Tongo Eisen-Martin and Ayodele Nzinga, the poet laureates of San Francisco and Oakland, respectively. 

Visit for a complete list of programs.

Pi Day’s livestream on March 14th from 12:00–1:30 p.m. PT is free to watch on the Exploratorium’s Facebook page and on YouTube, and a variety of Pi materials, resources, and activities are available for free on the museum's website.




Celebrate Pi (π) Day at the Exploratorium with Math Artist John Sims
Monday, March 14, 2022 • 11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.

Pi (π) Day Livestream
Art + Science of Pi
With John Sims, Kim Shuck, Silvia Blalock, and Scienceband
12:00–1:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Studio
Free online event—join via Facebook or YouTube

No matter how you slice it, you don’t want to miss Pi (π) Day. Math artist John Sims will share some of his pi inspired visual art, poetry, and music. Poets Kim Shuck, and Sylvia Blalock will join in performing their own spoken word odes to pi. Jazz combo Scienceband will perform Jon Sims’ latest composition, Pi Notes. Afterward, our expert educators Ron Hipschman and Lori Lamberston will share pi’s mathematical history and activities you can try at the museum and at home. 

John Sims, a Detroit native, is a Sarasota based conceptual artist, writer, and activist who creates art and curatorial projects spanning the areas of installation, performance, text, music, film, and large-scale activism, informed by mathematics, design, the politics of white supremacy, sacred symbols/anniversaries, and poetic/political text.

Kim Shuck is a silly protein. Shuck is the seventh Poet Laureate of San Francisco Emerita, solo author of eight books, and a long time fan of whimsical numbers.

Sylvia Blalok is a San Francisco native and former Explainer under Darlene Librero and Frank Oppenheimer. She is the author of Uprising-A Book of Poetry and founder of Queendom Network LLC. Her latest project is "Voices That Carry: Being Loud on Purpose"

Storytime Science: March Mathness
With Vivian Altmann
11:00 a.m. 
Bechtel Gallery 3 Classrooms, Room 1606

Join us for a special math inspired edition of Storytime Science! Enjoy a math-themed storybook read-aloud for children and their grown-ups. The Exploratorium's own Vivian Altmann will read The Cookie Fiasco by Dan Santat and Mo Willems. After the story, take math into the third dimension by crafting paper plate Bucky balls, greeting card boxes, and pinwheels shapes.

Pi Day Musical Performance
With Scienceband
2:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Studio

Groove with Scienceband’s setlist as they pair pi trivia and science facts with a full jazz combo. 

Pi Procession
1:59 p.m.

Grab your digit and get in line for the annual Pi Procession! A high-spirited crowd parades through the museum and circles the Pi Shrine 3.14 times, waving the digits of pi and singing a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” to Einstein. All participants will enjoy a free slice of pie following the parade.


The Value of Pi
With the Facilitators
10:30 a.m.–1:00 p.m. and 2:30–4:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3, Demo Station

Can you estimate the value of pi with string and scissors? Or by tossing pie pans? Can pi help determine the best deal when buying a pie or pizza pie? Explore these questions and more with our team of informal, museum educators.


Math artist John Sims; an image of "Civil Pi," a quilt made by Sims as part of his project, SquareRoots: A Quilted Manifesto

About John Sims

John Sims, a Detroit native, Sarasota based conceptual artist, writer, activist and former Coordinator of Mathematics at Ringling College of Art and Design, creates art and curatorial projects spanning the areas of installation, performance, text, music, film, and large-scale activism, informed by mathematics, design, the politics of white supremacy, sacred symbols/anniversaries, and poetic/political text. For 20 years he has been working on the forefront of contemporary mathematical art and leading the national pushback on Confederate iconography.

As the former Coordinator of Mathematics at Ringling College Art and Design in Sarasota, Florida, he designed a visual mathematics curriculum for artists and visual thinkers, and co-curated the exhibition MathArt/ArtMath featuring M.C. Escher, Sol LeWitt, Helaman Ferguson, Brent Collins and many more.  He went on to curate a system of more than 15 mathematical art exhibitions/performances called Rhythm of Structure including the year long exhibition/film project, Rhythm of Structure: Mathematics, Art and Poetic Reflection which featured over 75 artists and poets including Sol Lewitt, Adrian Piper, and former U.S. Poet Laureate Mark Strand. 

His signature 20 year project, SquareRoots: A Quilted Manifesto, is a call to unify and collaborate mathematics and art, craft and fine arts, visual with text—through a collection of 13 mathematical art Pi quilts  created in collaboration with Amish quilters, dresses, drawings  and the Pi Day Anthem. This work was recently featured as the first chapter in Stephen Ornes' book Math Art: Beauty, Truth and Equations, Sterling Publishing, 2019.

Currently, he is Resident Artist  at the La Mama Experimental Theater Club in New York City at the Ringling Museum of Art, where he developed the performance piece 2020: (Di)Visions of America, which is a part of a two decade national art-activism project, Recoloration Proclamation, that explores, re-examines and remixes Confederate iconography as it relates to the African American experience.

He has lectured and exhibited nationally and internationally including Hungary, Spain, Slovenia, Israel and Argentina. His work has been featured in The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, The Guardian, Al Jazeera, Guernica, Art in America, Sculpture, FiberArts, Science News, CNN, NBC News, Nature and Scientific American. He has written for CNN, Al Jazeera, The Tampa Bay Times, The Huffington Post, Guernica, The Rumpus, and The Grio.

About the Exploratorium

Exploratorium logo

The Exploratorium is a portal to the astonishing scientific phenomena that animate our world and shape our actions. We create extraordinary learning experiences that ignite curiosity, upend perceptions, and inspire brave leaps forward. Since 1969, the Exploratorium’s museum in San Francisco has been home to a renowned collection of exhibits that draw together science, art, and human perception, and that have changed the way science is taught. Our award-winning programs provide a forum for the public to engage with artists, scientists, policymakers, educators, and tinkerers to explore the world around them. We celebrate diversity of thought, inspired investigation, and collaboration across all boundaries.

Press Office