Sunday, May 9, 2021

San Francisco’s Exploratorium Closes at Palace of Fine Arts

Exploratorium staff and volunteers on final day of operation.  Photo by Amy Snyder & Gayle Laird© Exploratorium
Exploratorium staff and volunteers on final day of operation. Photo by Amy Snyder & Gayle Laird
© Exploratorium

San Francisco, CA, USA (January 2, 2012) — The Exploratorium closed its doors at the Palace of Fine Arts for the final time today, approximately 43 years, 4 months and 13 days after a small, hardy staff welcomed the public to first wander in.

Perhaps the best summation of what this day is celebrating is from the introduction to the NOVA television program about the Exploratorium called Palace of Delights: “This elegant building has had its ups and downs.  Over the years it has served well as an art gallery, a warehouse for telephone books, garage space for Army trucks and jeeps, shelter for 18 indoor tennis courts, and as a fire station for San Francisco Fire Engine Company #6.  But then, after its long history of civic service it became the home for a science museum unlike any other in the world – the Exploratorium.”

For more than 40 years, the Exploratorium has regularly closed each day with the ringing of an old school bell and with high school Explainers yelling, “The Exploratorium is now closed.”  It closed in a similar way this time – though the big, old-fashioned school bell was brought out to the middle of the museum floor, where all gathered staff and artists-in-residence from years past rang small bells as well, exclaiming, “The Exploratorium is now moving,” (as it is not really closing after all).  Guests were greeted with a receiving line of staff as they exited, and received a special thank-you gift on the way out.  The Exploratorium opens at Pier 15 on the Embarcadero on April 17, 2013.

About the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is the global leader in informal learning, igniting curiosity and inspiring creativity in people of all ages. The world-renowned science museum creates original, interactive exhibits, on display at more than 1,000 science centers, museums and public spaces around the world. Dedicated to education reform in and out of the classroom, the Exploratorium is a premier professional development center for educators and a creator of award-winning educational resources. Since 1969, the Exploratorium has influenced generations of entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, teachers, students, children, museum professionals and everyday doers, reaching nearly 180 million people annually from around the globe. On April 17, 2013, the Exploratorium will move to Pier 15 in the heart of San Francisco’s Embarcadero, where it will celebrate a new era of experiences that encourage critical thinking and awaken wonder for generations to come. For more information, visit

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