A new piece of the Embarcadero transformation puzzle has been completed and fits nice and snug in it's place between Pier 39 and the Ferry Building. Today, the Exploratorium opens at Pier 15 at the heart of the revitalized San Francisco waterfront. With three times more space overall than its previous home, the new Exploratorium will engage the curiosity and creativity of visitors of any age as they explore 150 brand-new exhibits amongst more than 600 that will be on view. For the first time, the Exploratorium expands its investigations into the bay, city, and outdoor landscape.

We've had a chance to view the incredible space and we can't for you to step in and explore it. Warning: You will want to spend countless playing with everything. Be prepared to be sucked in. Check out their calendar of events to plan your next visit

Here is what you need to know about the Exploratorium's new home...

At a Glance

  • A 330,000-square-foot indoor/outdoor space at Pier 15 on the San Francisco waterfront, providing 3 times more overall space than the original Palace of Fine Arts location
  • More than 600 indoor and outdoor exhibits created by staff scientists and artists, 25% of whichare brand new
  • 1.5 acres of free, outdoor space feature a public plaza, promenade, striking views, outdoor exhibits, a bayside restaurant, a plaza-side café, food carts and the Exploratorium Store with interactive exhibits
  • Pier 17, part of the Pier 15/17 campus, provides back-of-house space with room for future expansion

Opening Galleries

Bernard and Barbro Osher West Gallery – Human Behavior


  • This gallery focuses on the art and science of human behavior
  • This provocative space encourages people to play with perception; investigate memory, emotion, and judgment; and experiment with how we cooperate, compete, and share, as in the following exhibits:
    • Poker Face: an exhibit that allows people to explore how we use facial expressions and behaviors to interpret the intentions of others
    • Tactile Dome: Coming Summer 2013, an updated version of the classic exhibit where visitors spelunk through abundantly textured passages in total darkness using only their sense of touch
    • Tornado: lets visitors dance and spin with a vibrant and ever-changing column of fog, promoting experimentation with air currents and social interaction and observation

Bechtel Central Gallery – Seeing & Listening


  • This familiar ―core‖ of the Exploratorium, expanding with many new exhibits, serves as a public laboratory for investigation into physics and human perception, including light and sound with exhibits such as:
    • Sound Bite: Discover how you don‘t need your ears to listen—use your jawbone instead when you listen like a snake
    • Bright Black: Find out why we can‘t always believe what we see through an exhibit that will convince you that an object is white before you discover that it is almost black

East Gallery – Living Systems


  • It‘s a working laboratory where visitors can experience the beauty and complexity of life through interactive investigations of living organisms, from an examination of life indigenous to the bay water, to mouse stem cell research, to movement of the tides. In this gallery visitors:
    • Get a close-up view of the living critters that live in the waters underneath the museum
    • Control research grade scientific microscopes that have been ‗hacked‘ to give visitors control
    • Understand the power of microscopic plankton, which produce almost half the oxygen we breathe, why their numbers rise and fall with the seasons, and why they dance their ballet towards blue light

South Gallery – Maker Culture in The Tinkering Studio™


  • South Gallery is the public workshop area where visitors can engage in learning by making directly adjacent to where Exploratorium exhibits are built
  • Founded by Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich, The Tinkering Studio™ is where museum visitors can build, make, hack, create, invent and experiment
  • Past activities have included: sewing electrical circuits, mechanical teddy bear toy dissection and turning 100 square feet of pegboard into the world's largest marble machine.

Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery and Terrace – Observing the Landscape


  • An all-glass gallery (and terrace) that becomes a transparent lens to both the waterfront and the cityscape, providing visitors an opportunity to observe the science of the bay, the landscape and the human impact that has shaped the Bay Area
  • Exhibits, instruments and artworks for observing give visitors a 360-degree view of the natural and built worlds
  • Multi-layered exhibits focus on what visitors can see through the windows in real time –the movement of the sun, tides and currents, cargo ships, people and historical perspectives on the landscape. Exhibits include:
    • Oculus: a circular opening in the ceiling that turns the entire gallery into a timepiece. Markings show seasons and solstices, and track the sun's position across the sky
    • Visualizing the Bay: a 3D topographic map of the Bay Area with a wide-range of data sets projected on its surface show the forces that shape our landscape—from earthquakes to fog banks, from income distribution to life expectancy
    • Map Table: Historic and contemporary maps may be browsed and compared, including a unique series of atlases combining aspects of the physical, engineered, and imagined landscape

Outdoor Gallery


  • The Outdoor Gallery which includes ticketed space and 1.5 acres of free space beckons visitors to investigate exhibits about water, fog, wind, rain, daily cycles of the sun and more
  • The Bay View Walk invites the public to stroll around the entire site. It includes two connecting bridges, the Outdoor Gallery, food carts, and a civic plaza, which will be the site of future outdoor events and cultural programming.