San Francisco, California


San Francisco's newly reopened hands-on science museum


The Exploratorium, a museum of science, art and human perception, is home to hundreds of exhibits that help in the understanding of electricity, centrifugal motion, sound waves, optical illusion and superstitions among other things.

Located at the Palace of Fine Arts since 1969, the Exploratorium reopened in 2013 at Pier 15 on the San Francisco waterfront. The new space features updated and improved exhibits but stays close to the spirit of funky, hands-on, homebuilt science experimentation.

The Exploratorium has been credited with influencing the model of exploratory, experiential museum design, encouraging visitors to handle and interact with the exhibits to understand the science behind them.

The Tactile Dome – not recommended for the claustrophobic or germophobic – is an experience in total darkness that challenges visitors to heighten their sense of touch to navigate through the winding paths on their hands and knees. The tactile dome must be reserved ahead of time, and is a three-dollar additional cost to the museum's admission fee.

On any given day the Exploratorium is overrun by kids on field trips or birthday parties. It can be hard to fully enjoy the exhibits while kids frantically careen from exhibit to exhibit, but once a month on the first Thursday the museum is open late for Exploratorium After Dark. The lights are turned down low, special exhibits, such as chain saw ice sculpting or Dr. MegaVolt, are brought in, and drinks are served. In this setting, the Exploratorium becomes a fantastic play land for adults who still have enough wonder in them to delight in the wonderful exhibits of the Exploratorium.


  • Hours
    Open Tue – Sun 10am-5pm. After Dark: First Thursday of every month 6pm-10pm
  • Website
  • Address
    Pier 15, San Francisco, California, 94109, United States
  • Cost
    Adults $14, Students/Seniors/Youth (13-17) $11, Children (4-12) $9, 3 and under Free, Admission + Tactile Dome $17. After Dark: $14, Members: Free. After Dark membership $25
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