San Francisco, California

United States

3601 Lyon Street

Phone: 415 563-7337
Fax: 415 561-0307


The Exploratorium is a public educational institution for peoples of all ages. This innovative museum of science, technology, art, and human perception provides for the general public, even those with the most limited scientific knowledge, an experience enabling them to understand science and nature.

Permanent Collection

The Exploratorium is like a mad scientist\\\\\\\'s penny arcade, a scientific funhouse and an experimental laboratory all rolled into one. With over 400 hands-on exhibits on display at any one time, all you need is curiosity. Touch a tornado, shape a glowing electrical current, or see a roundworm glow green with the implanted DNA for luminescence from a jellyfish. Or take a sensory journey in total darkness in the Tactile Dome.

Wave Organ
The Wave Organ, an outdoor exhibit of the Exploratorium, by artist Peter Richards and stonemason Richard Gonzalez, is a wave-activated sound sculpture that utilizes wave action
from the bay to create a symphony of sound, which emanates from a series of pipes that reach down into the water. A wonderful collection of granite material (including discarded tombstones) creates a series of sculptured terraces and seating areas. The listening pipes extend from the seating area to the water. The intensity and complexity of the wave music is directly related to the tides and weather. Located at the tip of the jetty forming the San Francisco Yacht Club harbor, the seating area also offers a spectacular view of San Francisco.


Exhibits cover a range of subject areas, including human perception (such as vision, hearing, learning and cognition), the life sciences, and physical phenomena (such as light, motion, electricity, waves and resonance, and weather).Exhibit areas include Seeing, Listening, Traits of Life, Matter/World, and the Mind

Forthcoming exhibitions

October 2007
New Exhibit Collection Opens
The Mind:
Attention, Emotion, and Judgment:
How do minds figure out what to do?

This new 4 years in the making exhibition, funded by the National Science Foundation, focuses on three areas of mental activity that process perceptions and enable human action: attention, emotion, and judgment. Working with an interdisciplinary team of museum staff as well as artists, scientists, and educators from outside the museum, the Mind project will present over 40 new interactive exhibits, as well as programming that includes brain dissections, psychology research with visitors, films, workshops, and lectures. An example of what you might encounter among the new exhibits: a very clean white, pristine enamel toilet bowl that just happens to be a drinking fountain. Yes, it’s an exhibit. The question is – and the point – do you take a drink and if not, why not, and if so, how do you feel inside? Or what\\\\\\\'s it like when you see yourself -- not in a mirror image as you\\\\\\\'re accustomed -- but as others actually see you. Or how does it feel to be the center of attention At this new exhibition, visitors can go \\\\\\\"on stage\\\\\\\" and receive the accolades of applause as well as more than a few catcalls and boos.


Admission: $8-13.00. (Under age 4 free)

Opening hours

Open Tuesday-Sunday from 10am to 5pm. Closed Mondays except MLK Day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. Closed Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Getting there

There is ample free parking around the Exploratorium for those arriving by car. The Exploratorium is located inside the magnificent Palace of Fine Arts in SF\\\\\\\'s Marina District, near the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Exploratorium has convenient access to public transportation. We are accessible by San Francisco Muni buses #30, #43, #28 and #29. Muni bus lines #22, #41 and #45 also stop in the vicinity. From Fisherman\\\\\\\'s Wharf take the #30 Stockton bus. For more information, call Muni at (415) 673-6864 or check the Transit Info Web site.

If you\\\\\\\'re taking BART, get off at the Montgomery Street station, walk one half-block up Market Street to Third Street and catch the #30 Stockton bus on the corner.

Virtually all downtown-bound Golden Gate Transit buses stop nearby the Exploratorium. Ask your driver for directions or call Golden Gate Transit Information at (415) 332-6600.


An Exploratorium Store and cafe are located inside the museum.

Museum internal and external photos (9)

Click on the images to enlarge


“Best science museum in the world.”
–Dennis Flannagan, Editor Emeritus
Scientific American

“#1 on Good Housekeeping’s Top Ten Science Museums List”

“There are two models for great American amusement centers and both can be found in California. Rising from the plains of Anaheim is the original Magic Kingdom, Disneyland. To the north, in a hangar-size building at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge, is the Exploratorium.”

“Best museum in San Francisco.”
–Family Fun Magazine

“Ten Great Science Museums: In San Francisco, the Exploratorium.”
–Discover Magazine

“Perhaps the best science museum in the world.”
–American Airlines’ American Way

“Exploratorium influences science museums new and old.”
–Physics Today Magazine

“Best science museum website.”
–Yahoo! Internet Life

“No one in recent years has had a greater impact upon museums.”
–American Association of Museums Award to Frank Oppenheimer

\\\\\\\"The reason why Silicon Valley has spawned so much creativity is because all those creative folks went to the Exploratorium when they were young.\\\\\\\"
--Brian Eno


The Exploratorium\\\\\\\'s Center for Learning and Teaching is comprised of several programs. The Institute for Inquiry, one of the five National Science Foundation-designated centers for accelerating science education reform nationwide, works with elementary school teachers, administrators, and district leaders from around the country in a range of workshops and institutes designed to help districts implement inquiry-based education as a part of their standards-based reform efforts. In November 2006, IFI launched a new online curricula -- available at -- a resource for teachers, professional developers, and district administrators. The Teacher Institute provides teacher development programs for middle and high school science and mathematics teachers, including novice teachers. In a recent blind survey, these programs were rated one of the top two science education resources among teachers and district leaders from throughout Northern California.

Taking a cue from the public’s enthusiastic response to “informal science centers” like science and natural history museums, zoos, and aquaria, the Center for Informal Learning and Schools (CILS) integrates the best of the “informal science learning” with the formal learning that takes place in schools. A collaboration between the Exploratorium, King’s College London (KCL), and the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), CILS trains in informal science instruction and examines the strategies that make such centers powerful learning venues. CILS prepares leaders in informal science education, conducts research, supports students pursuing advanced degrees in...+ [ Read all ]


To purchase or renew your Membership, change your address, or request a Membership brochure, please call Membership Services at 415-561-0321, or e-mail us at

Venue hire

The Exploratorium is available for rental for corporate and other large scale events. Go to: