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The Exploratorium

Scientific Wizardry and Interactive Fun for the Whole Family


The Exploratorium
Image Courtesy of the Exploratorium
Update! As of early 2013, the Exploratorium has moved from its Palace of Fine Arts location to the San Francisco Waterfront. The new address is Pier 15 and 17 on the Embarcadero, which is about five blocks north of the Ferry Building Marketplace.

One of the favorite field-trip destinations for bay area school children, the Exploratorium is often overlooked by many out-of-the-area visitors. But there really is no better rainy day destination in the entire city of San Francisco for families with children, and adults will be amazed at how sophisticated and cutting edge the museum is while still managing to be tons of fun. This is because the nearly 600 exhibits at the Exploratorium are "hands-on", allowing visitors to learn the magical laws of nature and science by creating their conditions and exploring their effects as they go.


Visiting The Exploratorium

  • Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10am till 5pm
  • Admission: Adults $25, Students and Seniors $17, Children 4-12 $10 and kids under 4 free.
  • Address: Pier 15/17 San Francisco, CA
  • Contact: (415) 528-4444
  • Parking: Paid lots or metered street parking
  • Public Transit: Historic Streetcar from Fishermans Wharf or Market Street

Exhibits at the Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is always buzzing with activity and the museum guides, called "Explainers" are on hand to guide visitors through the exhibits and displays. Most activities at the Exploratorium were made on-site by various scientists, inventors and innovators; here are just a few of the many exhibits to explore:
  • The Tactile Dome: Visitors enter total darkness and are guided through a variety of environments using only their sense of touch.


  • Dance Walk: Visitors navigate their way through several movement themed interactive exhibits including an anti-gravity mirror and a wall that photographs shadows.


  • Seeing Exhibits: This area of the museum features a variety of activities, including optical illusions and rooms that mimic color blindness, that are designed to allow visitors to play with their own sense of sight.


  • Mind Exhibits: This section of the Exploratorium holds over 40 different exhibits that explore the connections between mind, emotion and the physical body including a lie detector, a mood stimulator and an attention-span measuring device.


  • Traits of Life: An area that contains over 30 exhibits devoted to biology including an exhibit that lets you compare cells from many different life forms and a hands-on hydroponics display.


Live Demonstrations at the Exploratorium

The highlight of many visits to the Exploratorium are the frequent live demonstrations by museums staff and "Explainers". These vary depending on day and season but have included the hands-on dissection of a cow's eyeball, how to make a battery out of your hand and the creation of miniature hurricanes.

Events at the Exploratorium

There are frequent lectures, special one-day exhibits, films and other presentation at the Exploratorium, many of which feature prominent writers, scientists, educators and inventors.

The After Dark series, which takes place on the first Thursday of the month, is directed at adults and features a cocktail bar and topics that explore current scientific findings and how they relate to modern living, including sexuality, career choices and spirituality.

While some events may be included in the daily admission price, others may require separate admission purchases: check the Exploratorium Calendar for current and upcoming events.

The Exploratorium Shop

For science kits, educational puzzles and games, magnets, solar cells, books, toys and many other gadgets that are designed not only to fascinate but to educate, the Exploratorium Shop is quite possibly the best option in the entire San Francisco area.

More about the Exploratorium

The Exploratorium was opened in 1969 by physicist Frank Oppenheimer, brother of Manhattan Project designer Robert Oppenheimer, as a museum where art and science intersect and educate the public. Since then the museum has attracted inventors and scientists from all over the world and allowed them to design the interactive exhibits and displays that fill the space.

The Exploratorium plays a very active role in the local education scene and almost anyone who grew up in the bay area will usually have several stories about their visits to the museum during their childhood.

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