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Rentals FAQ

Party at the Piers
Rentals FAQ

Booking the event

Can I place a soft hold?

Yes, you can hold a date for up to two weeks, no deposit required. You'll receive first right of refusal should someone challenge your hold during that time.

How do I move forward with booking an available date?

A 50% non-refundable deposit is required to confirm your booking. We will provide an agreement through the Exploratorium’s Docusign for you to sign along with a copy of our Event Policies.

Is the deposit refundable?

The deposit confirms your hold and, as such, is non-refundable.

What is the payment schedule?

A 50% non-refundable deposit is due at signing the agreement; the remaining balance is due 3 months prior to the event date.

Do you offer discounts for nonprofits?

Yes, we offer a 15% discount on the base rental fee for all 501(c)(3) nonprofits.

What is included in the museum rental/guest service fees?
  • Exhibits in the gallery rented, as approved on the floor plan (Tactile Dome is available for an additional fee.)
  • Onsite staff: Explainers, custodial, and building perimeter security

Timing of the Event: Evening

What is the standard timeline for a daytime and/or evening event?
  • Our standard daytime contract includes either half-day (5 hours between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.) or full-day (from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.).
  • Our standard evening contract is from 5:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.
  • All timelines include load-in, event time, and load-out.

What if I want to start my event earlier?

We allow earlier events on specific dates throughout the year. Please contact the Museum Rentals department to confirm.

How much set up time is allowed for my event?

Typically, vendors prefer 1½ to 2 hours for set-up; however, events with minimal rentals and production may require less time.

Can I rent a day before my event for load-in? What about the night before?

Generally, our spaces are not available for early load-in the day prior because the museum is open to the public daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. However, the Fisher Bay Observatory and the Kanbar Forum may be available on select Mondays. Standard rental fees apply. 

Gallery spaces are available to rent during closed hours after 5:00 p.m. the day before your event Standard rental fees apply. 

How early can my caterer, florist, or other vendors begin setting up?

With approvals from our logistics team, vendors can access Pier 17 as early as 12:00 p.m. The gallery you’ve rented will be available at the start of your contract time. 

What happens if my vendors go beyond the contracted load-out time?

Additional fees will be charged if load-out continues in either Pier 15 or 17 past the contracted load out time.

Are there restrictions on how late my event can go?

Load-out must be complete by 6:00 a.m. Alcohol service needs to end by 1:45 a.m. 

Can any load-out take place the following day?

No—all load-out and cleanup needs to be complete within your contract time.

Planning the Event

Do I have to hire a wedding/prom planner?

We do not require wedding or prom planners; however, they can be very helpful in the planning process, and we strongly encourage them. Please ask us for our recommendations.

Can I ship something to the Exploratorium before my event? What is the policy for delivery of event supplies?

Yes—you can coordinate your delivery in advance with your logistics manager. Our delivery address is Attention: Amy Adkins, Pier 17, Suite 100, San Francisco CA 94111. Send a copy of the shipping receipt to your logistics manager. The Exploratorium has very limited storage space, so items can only be delivered 48 hours in advance of your event.

Pickups must be scheduled in advance by the client. All boxes must be taped up, and the Exploratorium will bring them to Shipping and Receiving.

Is there parking available?

There is a 180-spot parking lot across the street. You can purchase your spot in advance from SP+; more information can be found here.

Metered street parking is also available. Please note that Embarcadero street cleaning begins at midnight.

Is there a loading zone for shuttles?

The white loading zone in front of Pier 17 can hold four 55-passenger shuttle buses. We also have a list of prefered valet companies. 

Do you have a green room space available?

Yes—classroom spaces throughout the museum are available for use as green rooms and are included in evening rentals based on availability.

Is wi-fi available in the museum?

Yes, we have a basic wireless network (#Exploratorium) that is free of charge and does not require a password. For personalized standard event wireless (for registration, photo booth, etc), we charge an additional $500. We also have other network options—please connect with your logistics manager.

Does the museum provide any event supplies, tables/chairs, food/beverage, decor or any other rentals?

We do not. The Exploratorium does have 200 black chrome chairs that are included in the Daytime Meeting Package add-on ($1,000) or à la carte $500 for evening events. 

Can I use any caterer?

We require the use of one of our approved caterers. They may be able to partner with a restaurant if you have specific needs.

Can I use any vendor?

Yes; however, your vendor will need to provide proof of insurance and go on a final walkthrough with our logistics team. We also have a list of preferred vendors who are already well-versed in our space.

Are museum galleries open during my event for my guests to view?
Daytime events include museum admission during museum open hours (not available on closed Mondays).  For evening events, guest access is limited to the gallery or galleries contracted.

Types of Events

Can I have a multi-day event?

For guest counts under 200, there are multi-day options available.

What galleries are available for daytime events?

When the museum is open to the public, you can choose from either the Kanbar Forum or the Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery & Terrace. When the museum is closed to the public (such as closed Mondays), all museum galleries are available to rent.

Can I do a company summer picnic at the Exploratorium?

Yes! We have great opportunities for corporate summer picnics. Please contact the Museum Rentals department for more information.

Is there gallery space to rent during After Dark on Thursday nights?

Yes, the Fisher Bay Observatory & Terrace and Kanbar Forum can be rented out during After Dark on approved dates. 

Can I have my kid’s birthday party at the Exploratorium?

Yes; however, we do not have separate packages for this. Our daytime rentals start at $5,000 in the Kanbar Forum, or you may come as General Admission guests.


Do you rent out exhibits?

Sometimes. Please reach out to our Global Collaborations team at

Are corporate sponsors eligible for special rental benefits?

Yes! Certain levels of corporate membership include special Museum Rentals benefits. See the varying levels here.

Do you offer tours of the museum?

Shop tours and Bio Lab tours can sometimes be added to events with advanced notice. No other coordinated tours are available; we encourage guests to explore and engage on their own, at their own pace.

What about team-building activities?

Great idea! We love partnering with local vendors who can create customized team-building activities. Ask us for recommendations. 

Can we film at the Exploratorium?

Yes; however, restrictions do apply. We ask guests who want to film to sign a Location Agreement. If you’d like to use a tripod during open hours, we require an Exploratorium team member to be present. We would also connect you with our PR Department. 

Why should I have my event at the Exploratorium?

The Exploratorium is a non-profit science museum. Your event helps us to fulfill our mission of transforming learning worldwide. You can learn more about our work here. We are a  unique venue with plenty of opportunities to ignite curiosity—let past Exploratorium events inspire you on our private YouTube channel

Contact Us

(415) 528-4500

Event Rentals Dept., Pier 15 
San Francisco, CA 94111

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Complete the Rental Request Form