San Francisco’s New Exploratorium Unveiled

Close up of the clock's funny men drinking tea...
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!?!  Because curiosity and play are not just for kids.
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:

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 for schedule.

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Sabrina is the Maker Faire Program Director. She works on stage content for the flagship fairs (Bay Area & New York), and also runs Maker Faire's global licensing program for locally and independently produced Maker Faires. She also co-creates the East Bay Mini Maker Faire in her town, Oakland, CA.

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