San Francisco’s Exploratorium isn’t just a museum; it’s an ongoing exploration of science, art, and human perception designed to ignite curiosity and inspire awe. Since its inception in 1969, the Exploratorium has challenged and changed the ways we understand science, blending interactive exhibits with groundbreaking educational programs.
A Brief History
Founded by physicist Frank Oppenheimer, the Exploratorium began as a radical idea to make science accessible and engaging for all. It has since grown into a premier science museum, known for its hands-on exhibits that encourage visitors to explore and interact with the scientific phenomena that shape our world.
Did you know?
- The Exploratorium was one of the first science museums to combine science with art, offering a unique perspective on learning.
- It has trained over 6,000 teachers annually, revolutionizing science education worldwide.
- The museum moved to Pier 15 on San Francisco’s Embarcadero in 2013, offering even more space for its interactive exhibits.
Today at the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium today remains a vibrant space where questions are encouraged, and discovery is around every corner. It houses hundreds of exhibits, ranging from mechanical devices to natural phenomena, and art installations that challenge perceptions. The museum’s location on Pier 15 also provides stunning views of the San Francisco Bay, adding to the visitor experience.
Not to Be Missed
- Tactile Dome: An immersive experience in total darkness where visitors navigate a maze using only their sense of touch.
- Outdoor Exhibits: Explore the environment and physics of the San Francisco Bay with outdoor exhibits that blend science with the natural world.
- After Dark: Experience the museum in a new light with adult-only evenings featuring unique programs, films, and one-of-a-kind activities.
Location and Information
Address: Pier 15, The Embarcadero & Green St., San Francisco, CA 94111
Visiting the Exploratorium offers a journey through the curious, the bizarre, and the beautiful. It’s a place where science and art collide to create experiences that are as enlightening as they are entertaining. Whether you’re a science enthusiast, an art aficionado, or simply in search of a unique San Francisco experience, the Exploratorium welcomes you to explore, question, and understand the world in entirely new ways.
8 Reasons Why the Exploratorium is San Francisco’s Most Iconic Travel Destination
San Francisco’s Exploratorium—the world’s most experimental and interactive museum has a new home at Pier 15 on San Francisco’s waterfront. Millions of people have visited the Exploratorium’s spectacular new location to touch, tinker and play with over 600 interactive exhibits. So, why is the Exploratorium one of the most iconic San Francisco attractions?
1. It is the perfect place to see the city and the Bay. The Exploratorium’s new home is on San Francisco’s historic waterfront, between the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf. With sweeping views of the city skyline, Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge, and Treasure Island from our glass-walled Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery & Terrace, you’ll see more of San Francisco—and see it differently—than you will anywhere else.
2. It was born out of the mind-expanding idealism of the 1960’s and is still a beacon of innovation today. Founded by Frank Oppenheimer in 1969, the Exploratorium is rooted in San Francisco’s history of creativity and independent spirit, and our ethos of experimentation and interactivity has made us a world influencer. If you want to understand San Francisco culture—then and now—start at the Exploratorium.
3. It’s been a playground for generations of entrepreneurs, makers, scientists, artists and educators. Our engaging interactive exhibits combine elements of art, science and human perception, and have inspired influential people to see the world differently. Come see what all the fuss is about.
4. It’s a learning laboratory where people of all ages can tinker and play. Whether you’re 6 or 64, our hands-on experiences ignite curiosity and lead to profound learning. We’re always growing and changing, just like you.
5. We love science, but we’re not just a science museum. Some of the most inspired and thought-provoking artists of our day—including Brian Eno, Tauba Auerbach, Ruth Asawa and Amy Balkin—have created works in the vibrant laboratory that is the Exploratorium.
6. Kids love us, but we’re not just for kids. Every week, adults 18 and over can experience the Exploratorium during our Thursday evening hours from 6:00–10:00 p.m. Where else can you sip cocktails, dance in a tornado, build a scribbling machine, and make your own stop-motion animations, all in the same night? Our signature After Dark events are one of the few truly interactive adults-only attractions in San Francisco.
7. We’re not just here, we’re everywhere. Our Global Studios team collaborates on projects all over the globe—from Arkansas to Abu Dhabi. Eighty percent of science centers internationally use Exploratorium exhibits, programs, or ideas. Where else in the world have you seen us?
8. You can get into it—for free. Exploratorium exhibits and experiences spill into the free public space along San Francisco’s vibrant Embarcadero, giving curious passersby a taste of the wonderland that lies inside. Immerse yourself in the experimental and eye-opening project of our Over The Water art series or take a ride in the Rickshaw Obscura and see the scenery upside down.
Open Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. and every Thursday evening (18+) 6:00–10:00 p.m. Closed Mondays except select holidays. Easily accessible by BART and Muni.
Cruise Ship Terminal at PIER 27
James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27 is the newest addition to the San Francisco waterfront. Built in 2014.
The Cruise Terminal boasts 91,000 square feet in a two-story building with views to the Bay Bridge and back to the City skyline and Telegraph Hill. Sized for 2,600 passengers and able to handle ships with up to 4,000, the Terminal is built for the evolving trends in the passenger cruise industry When in berth, ships can plug into the Port’s 12-megawatt shore power system to receive the cleanest source of power. The terminal has a new shore power technology that allows equipped cruise liners (like Princess’ or Carnival’s vessels) to use the city’s grid power system instead of their diesel engines to supply onboard services while berthed/docked. This innovation reduces the ships’ emissions at the cruise terminal.