In advance of their official re-opening on April 17th, the Exploratorium showed off their bright new Pier 15 space to members of the press Tuesday morning. SFist was there to take a look around the new space.
Friends of the old Exploratorium at the Palace of Fine Arts will find plenty of familiar sights here: there are 600 exhibits in all, about 25% of which are new items that visitors can get their hands on. In addition to the playful physics and life sciences experiments you might remember, there's an entirely new section of exhibits and experiments that investigate social behavior. Like a water fountain based on the Prisoner's Dilemma that might end up spraying you in the face. Elsewhere, you can finally refill your reusable water bottle from a toilet bowl water fountain.
The new building was designed by Marc L'Italien of EHDD and the galleries are even more expansive than before, with an abundance of light streaming in through walls of windows on most sides and high exposed ceilings. With the all that square footage (330,000 square feet total), the museum will be able to host temporary and rotating exhibits like the current one on the changing views of mental illness.
Fans of kinetic art will be delighted to find that Scott Weaver's toothpick sculpture Rolling through the Bay has found a permanent home in South Gallery.
The new Bay Observatory, which sits over the Bay on the far East end of Pier 15 is a definite highlight, connecting visitors to the surrounding area through a weather instruments and visualizations, historical maps of the area and more than a few stunning views of the city and the bay.
Outdoors: the walkways surrounding the piers make up an acre and a half of public open space, including a new footbridge connecting Pier 15 and 17 that features a high-tech, natural fog machine installation by artist-in-residence Fujiko Nakaya. "So even now that we moved," our tour guide told us this morning, "we've still got a bridge with fog." Also, there's a slinky treadmill, which is just great:
In addition to the gallery spaces, the museum features a new cafeteria and raw bar restaurant, Seaglass just beneath the Bay Observatory on the far end of the pier. A second coffee and quick-service spot called The Seismic Joint is named for the spot where the pier attaches to land and is designed to shake in the event of an earthquake. (The learning experiences really never stop around here.) Finally, because you're certainly wondering where to get a drink by now: a new cabaret-style concert hall features room for a full bar, which the museum expects to see a lot of use when they return to weekly Exploratorium After Dark events.
[Correction: An earlier version of this post stated there were roughly 200 exhibits, a number that only reflected one of the galleries in the new space.]