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Exploratorium’s expanded Middle Ground installation opens in San Francisco's Civic Center

Exploratorium’s expanded Middle Ground installation opens in San Francisco's Civic Center

 The latest iteration of the award-winning exhibition pops up on Fulton Street to spark conversation through social science

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SAN FRANCISCO (August 31, 2023) – The Exploratorium’s acclaimed public project Middle Ground: Reconsidering Ourselves and Others will celebrate its latest installation on September 14, 2023 with a lunchtime ceremony from 12 to 1pm in the heart of San Francisco’s Civic Center Plaza. The free exhibition, which previously appeared at the Main Public Library and on the Embarcadero, invites passersby of all ages to learn more about themselves and how they relate to the people around them as they interact with the exhibition and each other. The expanded Middle Ground includes 15 architectural-scale, interactive, and multimedia exhibits about topics such as stereotypes and biases, social influence, prosocial behavior, and social polarization. 

Developed in close collaboration with the City of San Francisco, Urban Alchemy, the San Francisco Public Library, San Francisco Recreation and Park Department, and key community stakeholders, Middle Ground stands as an emblem of the Exploratorium's dedication to enriching urban landscapes through knowledge and interaction.

"The Exploratorium is proud to contribute to the city's visionary efforts to rejuvenate Civic Center by offering a thought-provoking installation that fosters connection and reflection," said Lindsay Bierman, Sakurako and William Fisher Executive Director and CEO of the Exploratorium. "Our mission is deeply aligned with San Francisco's commitment to creating spaces that inspire and unite, and Middle Ground is a manifestation of that shared vision."

The partnership between The Exploratorium and the city reflects a profound dedication to revitalizing Civic Center as a hub of creativity and community engagement. The installation's presence in this iconic space underscores the city's aspiration to forge deeper connections among its residents and visitors, while celebrating the rich diversity that defines San Francisco.

"Through the Library’s partnership with the Exploratorium, the Middle Ground installation brings serendipitous joy and delight to residents and visitors frequenting the Civic Center. The reprise of this popular exhibit is a timely demonstration of our ongoing commitment to renewal and inclusivity," emphasized Michael Lambert, City Librarian. "This installation is among several upcoming collaborative projects which exemplify our vision of a vibrant Civic Center that invites exploration, contemplation, and meaningful interactions."

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Middle Ground is funded by a National Science Foundation Advancing Informal STEM Learning grant. Since its initial installation in 2019, Middle Ground has received multiple design awards (SF Design Week, Fast Company, American alliance of Museums) and produced research published as book chapters, case studies, and journal articles. The bright yellow activity towers will greet locals and visitors in Civic Center Plaza through March 24, 2024. For more information, contact the Exploratorium Press Office at




About the Exploratorium

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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.

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