Last updated: 8/15/2013
San Francisco, California
Pier 15
San Francisco, CA 94111
phone: 415-528-4444
Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday - Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Wednesday10 AM - 10 PM
Thursday 6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. for ages 18+
After Labor Day
Sunday, Tuesday - Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Thursday 6:00 p.m.–10:00 p.m. for ages 18+
Buy your tickets at the museum or online. You can print your tickets or open the PDF ticket on your mobile device, and show it at the door. No convenience fees; just convenience!
Gift Shop
Online Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Group Tours
Dr. Goery Delacote, Director
phone: 415-563-7337

We're now open in a spectacular new location:

We're now open in a spectacular new location at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero at Green St. in San Francisco. There are 150 new exhibits for a total of 600, indoors and out, including many beloved classics; a Bay Observatory; a bigger focus on tinkering and social science; and more. Come explore!

The Exploratorium is a twenty-first-century learning laboratory, an eye-opening, always-changing, playful place to explore and tinker. For more than forty years, we've built creative, thought-provoking exhibits, tools, programs, and experiences that ignite curiosity, encourage exploration, and lead to profound learning. Dive in and discover what we’re all about.

We are a museum of science, art, and human perception located in San Francisco, California. We believe that following your curiosity and asking questions can lead to amazing moments of discovery, learning, and awareness and can increase your confidence in your ability to understand how the world works. We also believe that being playful and having fun is an important part of the process for people of all ages.

We create tools and experiences that help you to become an active explorer: hundreds of explore-for-yourself exhibits; a website with over 50,000 pages of content; film screenings; workshops for lifelong learners including day camps for kids and family investigations; evening art and science events for adults—plus much more. We also create professional development programs for educators, and are at the forefront of changing the way science is taught. We share our exhibits and expertise with museums worldwide.

Many museums have docents—people who lead guided tours. We have young, orange-vested High School and Field Trip Explainers, who, in keeping with the Exploratorium philosophy, are engaged in both teaching and learning. Explainers are a diverse group of young people who are trained and supported by staff scientists and educators. The experience provides them with an enthusiasm for learning, as well as knowledge and communication skills that serve them throughout their personal and professional lives. Our Explainer programs started in the early days of the Exploratorium and quickly became a model for museums worldwide.


The Exploratorium was the brainchild of Frank Oppenheimer. At various times, Frank was a professor, a high school teacher, a cattle rancher, and an experimental physicist. While teaching at a university, Frank developed a “library of experiments” that enabled his students to explore scientific phenomena at their own pace, following their own curiosity. Alarmed by the public’s lack of understanding of science and technology, Frank used this model to create the Exploratorium, believing that visitors could learn about natural phenomena and also gain confidence in their ability to understand the world around them. This was a groundbreaking idea for a science museum in 1969 when the Exploratorium opened. And the rest is history.

Frank Oppenheimer viewed art and science as complementary ways of exploring the world, and incorporated both into the Exploratorium from its earliest days—a pioneering idea at the time that’s been woven into the fabric of the institution. Today, artists and scientists continue to work alongside each other in envisioning new ideas and directions for the museum and its programs. Their common goal: to support a culture of experimentation and collaboration, inspire curiosity and understanding, and stimulate fresh ideas and directions.

Artifact Collections

We create, experiment, test, and build nearly everything at the Exploratorium ourselves, always looking for the most interesting and important ideas to pursue, often pushing the limits of what’s possible. In this sense, we’re a classic research-and-development organization, constantly creating new activities, websites, events, artworks, exhibits, and more.

The hundreds of exhibits you see when you visit are built in our shop, which is visible to visitors. We conduct visitor research and evaluation about our exhibits, and tinker with them over time. The museum constantly changes and evolves as new exhibits and exhibitions are created, tweaked, or retired.

We continually push the boundaries in cyberspace, too, by streaming live webcasts from the museum and remote sites, creating mobile applications, experimenting with visualizations of natural and urban systems, using telepresence technologies to connect to research ships at sea; experimenting with augmented reality; and building a virtual museum in Second Life that features interactive exhibits and public programs.

Educational Programs

By making science visible, touchable, and accessible to a wide variety of people—at the museum, online, and in the classroom—our explore-for-yourself way of learning and teaching influences science education worldwide. Our professional development programs provide educators with the skills, tools, and support they need to apply inquiry-based learning and teaching in their classes. Our Lifelong Learning programs—for home schoolers, families, and adults, for example—bring learning by doing directly to a diverse group of people. We also design programs that make connections between the traditionally separate worlds of formal (school) and informal (museum) education and understanding.


Wheelchair Accessible




Our community of more than four hundred Exploratorium staff members—scientists, artists, educators, exhibit developers, writers, designers, and more—forms the creative and administrative core for everything we do. We constantly brainstorm, evaluate, create, and invent the Exploratorium—but we don’t work in a vacuum. Throughout our history, we’ve invited scientists, poets, visual artists, musicians, and interesting thinkers into the Exploratorium to infuse our community with inspiration and new ideas, and to help us develop new directions for the museum.

We also reach out to the community in lots of ways. For example, our Educational Outreach program links the Exploratorium with community-based organizations serving inner-city children, teens, and families. Our ExNET program, an exhibit and teaching network, shares the fruits of our experience with science centers worldwide. We also partner with other institutions—NASA and NOAA, for example, on initiatives that foster a public understanding of science—and we work with other science centers on collaborative projects. We extend our community, too, through our website, which gets approximately 24 million visits annually, and through social networking including Facebook and other online communities.

SEAGLASS Restaurant

SEAGLASS Restaurant is a casual, waterside venue with stunning views located at the east end of the museum. Chef Loretta Keller has created family-friendly, multicultural, locally sourced menus that showcase small producers. The menus change seasonally but may include tacos and quesadillas, Welsh rarebit (a riff on grilled cheese), pizzas, salads, and sandwiches. You’ll also find fresh seafood and sushi that meets Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch guidelines. SEAGLASS offers natural soft drinks, organic and fair trade coffees and teas, and sparkling house-made drinking vinegar beverages. It also features a bar that showcases artisanal distillers, many organic, and a thoughtfully curated wine and beer list. The bar itself incorporates Icy Bodies, an exhibit by Exploratorium Senior Artist Shawn Lani, into its design.

Food Tricycles

Food Tricycles—solar-powered, Dutch-style tricycles—are parked around the perimeter of Pier 15, selling coffee, baked goods, and organic soft-serve ice cream.

Host Your Special Event at the Exploratorium at Pier 15

The Exploratorium is the perfect event venue for formal dinners, cocktail receptions, launch parties, or just about anything you can dream up! At the Exploratorium, guests are immersed in a vibrant landscape of sights, sounds, and curiosities, with hundreds of engaging hands-on exhibits. The Exploratorium is the perfect place for unique and unforgettable events. Internationally recognized as the premier museum of science, art, and human perception for more than forty years, we begin a new era in the spring of 2013 in a dramatic new setting on the historic San Francisco waterfront. At Pier 15, the museum is divided into galleries filled with hundreds of exhibits ranging from mechanical contraptions to artworks highlighting the beauty of the physical phenomena that surround us. Galleries will be available to rent either individually or in combination.

Visit the Stores

Our stores (there are two at Pier 15) were both inspired by our onsite exhibit workshop, where our exhibits are designed and built. Look for a large, interactive triple vortex exhibit in the middle of the main store; a store fixture that converts into Scrapple, an interactive sound exhibit; and a cherry-red Art-O-Mat vending machine that dispenses original artworks. The stores carry unusual objects, games, and books for kids and adults that focus on science, art, and technology. They also sell Exploratorium clothing and gift items that are made by local artisans and in-house. All purchases help to support our educational mission.

Member Benefits

Exploratorium Membership is a great value! For a family of four, a Family Membership pays for itself in as little as two visits to the museum. All Members enjoy FREE admission year-round; subscriptions to our quarterly, explore; a discount on purchases in the Exploratorium Store; discounted admission to the famous Tactile Dome, access to our new Members Room, and much more!

Gift Shop

Online Gift Shop

Special Event Rental


Group Tours

This information, including business hours, addresses and contact information is provided for general reference purposes only. No representation is made or warranty is given as to its content or the reliability thereof. User assumes all risk of use. Stories USA, Inc. and its content suppliers assume no responsibility for any loss or delay resulting from such use. Please call ahead to verify the dates, the location and directions.
March 8 - March 11, 2023
Oakland, California
California Association of Museums 2023 Conference: ON COMMON GROUND
Hosted by:
March 11 - March 14, 2023
Harrisonburg, Virginia
Virginia Association of Museum's 2023 Annual Conference!
Hosted by:
March 14 - March 17, 2023
Memphis, Tennessee
2023 Tennessee Association of Museums Conference: Unfinished Revolutions
Hosted by:
Charles Town, West Virginia

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