Detail of the Exploratorium’s new Tim Hunkin clock
San Francisco’s Exploratorium museum is world-renowned for 30+ years of bringing science and technology to life through kinetic art, inquiry, and play. This Wednesday they will open their brand-new waterfront facility on Pier 15 in San Francisco. Yesterday, friends and family were invited for a party and preview of the exhibit space.
Mojitos at a science museum!? Yes! Because curiosity and play are not just for kids.
It was a true community gathering: yes, relatives and friends—but also ex-Exploratorium staff, exhibit developers, and a non-stop parade of affiliated artists. Jaws were dropping all over the place about the building and the vistas, and proud high-fives exchanged on behalf of all the hard work done. Yet overall there was a typical, low-key Exploratorium calm of groups of visitors interacting with exhibits.
Besides the gorgeous facility, standout experiences were the newly commissioned clock by UK artist Tim Hunkin and the new giant parabolic mirror. Hunkin’s clock activates on the half-hour, coming to life and assembling itself in a jovial gears-and-levers minute. The parabolic mirror is a classic Exploratorium trip-out: you are inverted and turned into what feels like a 3D projection. No digital effects here; just a keenly smart instrument that leverages natural laws.
Old exhibit faves like Ned Kahn’s tornado still thrill, but now you can have a cocktail at the swank sushi bar when you’re done exploring. A science museum with cocktails! Hooray for the Exploratorium for always leading the way! See the slideshow:
During most of the hour, artist Tim Hunkin's clock rests wrapped around a structural pillar.
Close up of the clock's funny men drinking tea...
...and the gears and cables that make them move.
On the hour and half-hour the clock begins to blink, animate and unfurl.
The clock in full extension.
A new Exploratorium ritual: The clock crowd!
Reportedly the giant parabolic mirror was part of a flight simulation training regime for Space Shuttle astronauts.
The mirror is super bright because the it's a "front surface" mirror (meaning the mirror layer is applied on the front of the mirror vs. the back). This means there are no shadows.
260 sheets of routered plywood = this new math climbing sculpture designed by the Exploratorium's Eric Dimond and fabricated by Freeman Troutman Co.
Local maker Kevin Binkert (seated) of SMP machined the parts for this Exploratorium-designed steel bench.
Artist Michael Brown raises a glass in honor of his new tree dissassembly exhibit.
Mojitos at a science museum!?! Yes! Because curiosity and play are not just for kids.
Spectacular views from the open-air deck off of the Exploratorium's Bay Observatory Gallery.
Maker Paul Troutman takes in the "Lathe House" lounge his team is finishing up. The whole thing turns on a motor, creating a mesmerizing display of shade patterns.
Classic Exploratorium genius: Ned Kahn's tornado exhibit from 1984 still delights.
The exhibit shop retains its front-and-center profile—with bright pops of new paint.
The Exploratorium is now in downtown San Francisco, just a 5 minute walk from the foot of Market Street, BART, and the Ferry Building.
Human perception is still wondrous and entertaining at the new Exploratorium.
And for those of you planning on attending Maker Faire Bay Area, Exploratorium Executive Director Dennis Bartels will be telling the story of Making the New Exploratorium on Center Stage. Stay tuned to makerfaire.com for schedule.