Courtesy of the Exploratorium/Amy Snyder
AAA/Greg Weekes
AAA/Thuyvi Gates
AAA/Greg Weekes
AAA/Greg Weekes
AAA/Greg Weekes
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 650 exhibits, most of them interactive. The Microscope Imaging Station in Gallery 4 produces high-resolution images of minuscule organisms like plankton and blood cells.

In Gallery 2 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. 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. Visitors also can observe while museum staff create exhibits in the Exhibit Development Shop.

Check out a world without color in the Bechtel Gallery 3's Monochromatic Room. The Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6 gives visitors a look at San Francisco Bay's geography and ecology. 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.

Gallery 5: Outdoor Exhibits 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.

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.

$29.95; $24.95 (ages 13-17, ages 65+, students with ID, teachers and persons with disabilities); $19.95 (ages 4-12). “Pay what you wish” community days are offered several times a year; check the website for specific dates. Admission Thurs. 6-10 p.m. (ages 18+ only) $19.95; $14.95 (daytime Exploratorium members); free (After Dark members). Separate Tactile Dome admission $15; $12 (Exploratorium members); advance reservations are strongly recommended. Thurs. night Tactile Dome drop-in session $10 (reservations not accepted). Phone ahead to confirm all prices.
Daily 10-5 (also Thurs. 6-10 p.m. for ages 18+), in summer; Tues.-Sun. and some Mon. holidays 10-5 (also Thurs. 6-10 p.m. for ages 18+), rest of year. Tactile Dome sessions are at 10:15, 11:30, 12:45, 2:15, 3:30 and 4:45 on days the museum is open; each session lasts about an hour. The Tactile Dome also is available on a drop-in basis Thurs. 6-10 p.m. (ages 18+), some Thurs. and Fri. at 6:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.; phone ahead. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.
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