When Frank Oppenheimer set out to establish a science and technology center in San Francisco, he wanted to develop a learning lab that would employ hands-on methods and teach through discovery. Feeling that no existing word captured the sentiment, the particle physicist coined a new one: "Exploratorium."
The Exploratorium opened in 1969 at the San Francisco Palace of Fine Arts, a relic of the 1915 world expo. Over the years, it has grown to become a beloved institution, reaching almost 180 million people annually with its customized interactive exhibits showcased both on the floor and in more than 1,000 other science centers around the world. It's also grown cramped, at a mere 100,000 square feet of space.
A search for a new home led to Piers 15 and 17 on the Embarcadero, overlooking the San Francisco Bay, Treasure Island and Bay Bridge. It took nearly a decade and $300 million for the Exploratorium to settle into its new home. After closing its doors in January, the museum is ready for its big debut, re-opening to the public this Wednesday.
The Exploratorium's new location on Pier 15 allows the museum to break up the interior into galleries. Pictured: the Central Gallery, which features exhibits focused on sight and sound.
Where the magic happens: The 600 interactive displays on the floor of the Exploratorium, as well as exhibits showcased in more than 1,000 science centers around the world, are built in its workshop, now located in the South Gallery.
Ahead of its opening, we got a sneak peek and scouted 10 amazing exhibits you must check out at your next visit to the Exploratorium.
All images Alice Truong for DVICE.