Skip to main content

Exploratorium, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Announce New Public Space Exhibition in Golden Gate Park

Exploratorium, San Francisco Recreation and Parks Announce New Public Space Exhibition in Golden Gate Park

Installation Brings Interactive Experiences to Alvord Lake


SAN FRANCISCO (October 5, 2021)—The Exploratorium, in partnership with the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, announced the completion of a set of installations and interactive experiences around the recently upgraded Stanyan Street Entrance to Golden Gate Park. The installations, designed and fabricated by the Exploratorium, aim to reveal, enhance, and celebrate the park’s ever-changing natural and social landscapes. 

A community event for the installation will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 14, 2021, at the Alvord Lake site. Representatives from San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors, Recreation and Park Department, and the Exploratorium will welcome visitors, and the Children & Nature Network will offer free activities.

The two-year installation includes eight experiences that animate Alvord Lake’s natural, built, and social environment. Once an expanse of sand dunes, Alvord Lake is now an almost entirely constructed landscape. Visitors can greet each other along the High-Five Highway, investigate how wind shapes the shifting sands of Hidden Dunes, experiment with the magnetic Black Sand found at Ocean Beach, explore the algae that thrives in the lake, and more.

“Placemaking and learning belong together,” said Shawn Lani, senior artist at the Exploratorium. “Through this partnership with the Parks, we hope to build on the work they have done to make the Park entrance more welcoming and inviting by engaging people of all ages in these experiences. Our goal is to help people feel more a part of the park and the community.” 


The installation of Exploratorium exhibits was the final phase of a multi-year improvement project to the Stanyan Street Frontage in Golden Gate Park. The project included renovating the Stanyan Street entry plaza, adding a new pedestrian sidewalk between Haight Street and JFK Drive, making landscape improvements in the oak woodlands area south of the lake, and converting an existing restroom to a functioning kiosk now occupied by Flywheel Coffee.

“These exhibits are the capstone in a series of major improvements to make the area safer, lusher, and more enticing to visitors,” said San Francisco Recreation and Park Department General Manager Phil Ginsburg. “These wonderful interactive pieces aren’t just about sprucing things up, they are about promoting a sense of community and providing opportunities for wonder and play for people of all ages.”  

The interactive exhibit pieces will be stewarded and facilitated by community members employed by Urban Alchemy, a nonprofit organization focused on bringing a sense of peace and respect to America’s most chaotic urban areas. Site stewards will help facilitate the interactive experiences and serve as mediators and caretakers of the space.

Over the last eight years, the Exploratorium has worked with local community partners to create meaningful installations and experiences that encourage play, exploration, creativity, and social connection in public spaces, including Middle Ground at the San Francisco Public Library, Buchanan Mall, and San Francisco’s UN Plaza. The goal of these projects is to build on the Exploratorium’s tradition of creating active, inquiry-based learning experiences, and bring them into the public realm. 


The Exploratorium’s installations at Alvord Lake were made possible in part by the support of Science Sandbox, an initiative of the Simons Foundation. 


About the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department 

Media Contact: Tamara Aparton,

The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department currently manages more than 220 parks, playgrounds, and open spaces throughout San Francisco, including two outside city limits—Sharp Park in Pacifica and Camp Mather in the High Sierras. The system includes full-complex recreation centers, swimming pools, golf courses, sports fields, and numerous small-to-medium-sized clubhouses that offer a variety of sports- and arts-related recreation programs for people of all ages.  Included in the Department’s responsibilities are Golden Gate Park, Coit Tower, the Marina Yacht Harbor, the San Francisco Zoo, and Lake Merced. In 2017, San Francisco became the first city in the nation where all residents have access to a park within a 10-minute walk, a direct result of the Department’s commitment to increasing and improving parkland in the city. 

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