AAA Editor Notes
Exploratorium is at Pier 15, at the foot of Green St. and The Embarcadero. The building has a contemporary industrial look, with six galleries displaying some 600 exhibits, most of them interactive. The Microscope Imaging Station in the East Gallery produces high-resolution images of minuscule organisms like plankton and blood cells. In the South Gallery visitors can design their own Marble Machine, a contraption created from materials available at any local hardware store that sends a marble rolling along a circuitous path. Visitors also can observe while museum staff create exhibits in the Exhibit Development Workshop.
Check out a world without color in the Bechtel Central Gallery's Monochromatic Room. A sure-fire crowd pleaser is “Rolling Through the Bay,” a collection of city landmarks made entirely of toothpicks that took creator Scott Weaver nearly 40 years to complete. The Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery gives visitors a look at San Francisco Bay's geography and ecology.
The Outdoor Gallery features a 27-foot-tall Aeolian harp “played” by the wind. Experience upside-down views of The Embarcadero courtesy of the Rickshaw Obscura, a variation of the classic Camera Obscura; this one is mounted on a three-wheeled bike that is mobile. Bring a jacket to enjoy the view of the Bay Bridge from the observatory's terrace or to stroll around the walkway outside the museum.
The Tactile Dome (ages 7+) offers an interactive experience in total darkness; you feel your way through its chambers and mazes by crawling and sliding, relying only on your sense of touch and most likely gaining a renewed appreciation of your sense of sight when it's over.
Guests who are afraid of the dark, claustrophobic or who have back, neck or knee injuries should not participate in a Tactile Dome session, and those wearing casts are prohibited. Comfortable clothes are recommended.
Food is available. Time: Allow 2 hours minimum.