Exploratorium – San Francisco, California - Atlas Obscura


San Francisco's newly reopened hands-on science museum. 


The Exploratorium, a museum of science, art and human perception, is home to hundreds of exhibits that help in the understanding of electricity, centrifugal motion, sound waves, optical illusion and superstitions among other things.

Originally located at the Palace of Fine Arts, the Exploratorium reopened in 2013 at Pier 15 on the San Francisco waterfront. The new space features updated and improved exhibits but stays close to the spirit of funky, hands-on, homebuilt science experimentation.

The Exploratorium has been credited with influencing the model of exploratory, experiential museum design, encouraging visitors to handle and interact with the exhibits to understand the science behind them.

The Tactile Dome – not recommended for the claustrophobic or germophobic – is an experience in total darkness that challenges visitors to heighten their sense of touch to navigate through the winding paths on their hands and knees. The tactile dome must be reserved ahead of time, and is an additional cost to the museum’s admission fee.

On any given day the Exploratorium is overrun by kids on field trips or birthday parties. It can be hard to fully enjoy the exhibits while kids frantically careen from exhibit to exhibit, but it is now open every Thursday night for adults only. The lights are turned down low, special exhibits, such as chain saw ice sculpting or Dr. MegaVolt, are brought in, and drinks are served. In this setting, the Exploratorium becomes a fantastic play land for adults who still have enough wonder in them to delight in the wonderful exhibits of the Exploratorium.


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