More than 40 years ago, Frank Oppenheimer started a movement that transformed education: He founded the Exploratorium, the prototype for more than 1,000 hands-on, participatory institutions that exist around the world today.
The Exploratorium also pioneered the idea that science institutions like ours are bona fide teacher education institutions. In fact, the Exploratorium produces more hours of teacher professional development than any other Bay Area institution, including universities and school systems. As a research and development laboratory for public learning, the Exploratorium receives more NSF funding than any other non-university nationwide. We were acknowledged in the 2007 book Forces for Good as one of the 12 most impactful nonprofits from the last 30 yearsand the only one that was a museum.
And now we’re planning to move from our home at the Palace of Fine Arts (but far from the city center, on the western outskirts of town) to a nine-acre campus at Piers 15 and 17, in the center of the city, between the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf, on San Francisco’s historic waterfront. Set for the spring of 2013, this move will multiply the impact we’ve already had. With easy public access and transportation options from every direction, it will significantly extend and expand the audiences we’re reaching.
Every year, more than 180 million people worldwide play with and learn through exhibits that were created, developed, or built by the Exploratorium. Since we opened in 1969, 15 million people have visited the Exploratorium in San Francisco and, since its 1984 launch, tens of millions have visited our website.
We’ve created this online resource, highlighting our new home, in order to keep you informed of our progress and plans as we prepare for our move. Come back often to watch the transformation, and share this site with friends so they can learn how the Exploratorium is reshaping the landscapephysically, as we revitalize our historical campus at the piers; mentally, as we explore and experiment in our new environment; and educationally, through our leadership and work with institutions and educators worldwide.
As we get closer to our move, this site will keep you posted on the latest steps, events, and innovations being designed in preparation for our new home. We look forward to opening our new doors to you in 2013, and hope you will follow our progress as the journey unfolds.
Dennis M. Bartels, PhD
Executive Director, Exploratorium