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Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Visitors to the Golden Gate Bridge find, at its south end, a collection of exhibits focused on the engineering challenges involved in designing, building, and maintaining the iconic structure. The Exploratorium was part of an exhibition team headed by the Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering (CUREE) that created the display.

The Golden Gate Bridge is visited by 10 million people a year from around the world. CUREE and the National Science Foundation recognized a prime opportunity to communicate the value of science and engineering to sightseers who, captivated by their experience with the bridge, might be eager to learn. The multi-year project involved engineers, historians, exhibit developers, visitor researchers, and more. In addition to the exhibition, the project resulted in a website and an international conference exploring how civic works like the bridge can be used to teach about engineering and other STEM topics. The Exploratorium developed and built two interactive exhibits for the project.

This project was funded by National Science Foundation grant #1224151



Bridge Motion

The Golden Gate Bridge is a dynamic structure, built to move. This 1:500 scale model emulates the bridge’s actual motions: it bounces, sways, wiggles, and twists. Users can experiment with different modes of vibration and see how the bridge responds to forces such as pushing (like the wind) and shaking (like an earthquake).

Cable Tension

This exhibit lets users investigate two related aspects of bridge design: tower height and cable tension. Golden Gate Bridge engineers had to balance these two factors in their designs. Here, visitors can experience the factors first–hand using three model bridges with three different-sized towers. By pulling on ropes attached to the bridge cables, users feel how the cable tensions differ with tower height.

Golden Gate Bridge

At the Golden Gate Bridge visitor area, a collection of exhibits focuses on the engineering challenges involved in designing, building, and maintaining the iconic structure. As part of the project team, the Exploratorium developed exhibits for the display.


Golden Gate