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San Francisco: Exploratorium set to reopen at triple the size

April 11, 2013|By Avital Andrews
  • A parabolic mirror is but one of the many exhibits at San Francisco's Exploratorium, set to reopen Wednesday.
A parabolic mirror is but one of the many exhibits at San Francisco's… (Exploratorium )

The wait is almost over. The Exploratorium, which spent its first 44 years in a dim exhibit hall at San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts, will reopen Wednesday (April 17) in a new, light-filled home on the Embarcadero.

The self-described 21st century learning lab has tripled in size, and the construction project that made it so is billed as San Francisco’s biggest waterfront building in more than a decade.

The much-loved institution was founded by physicist Frank Oppenheimer, who believed science intersected with art and should be fun.

“If in the course of some wandering, I come onto something delightful or exhilarating or beautiful or insightful, I want to tell someone else what I have found,” he said. “More than that, I want to bring them along with me to share what I have discovered.”

The museum opened in 1969; he was actively involved in it until his death in 1985.

Here are some of the ways the Pier 15 Exploratorium is different from the Palace Exploratorium: 

The size: The Exploratorium’s new nine-acre campus is big enough to accommodate 1 million paid visitors per year, plus 3 million more guests expected to drop by the free open-air exhibits. The scale and size of this Marc L’Italien-designed structure is likely the most marked difference Exploratorium regulars will notice.

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