Relocating the Exploratorium: Moving a Body without Losing the Soul

Relocating the Exploratorium: Moving a Body without Losing the Soul
Tom Rockwell

Director of Exhibitions and Programs
The Exploratorium, San Francisco

Relocating the Exploratorium: Moving a Body without Losing the Soul

Tom Rockwell, Director of Exhibitions and Programs, The Exploratorium (museum of science, art and human perception), San Francisco

In the Spring of 2013, the Exploratorium re-opened at a new location on the San Francisco waterfront after closing three months earlier at its original site at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. The Exploratorium has long been more of an “open laboratory” than a formal museum. One of the biggest concerns among staff and community was that, in moving to a new location, the institution would loose its R&D spirit and its distinct, work-in-progress aesthetic and change too much. At the same time, one of the reasons for moving was to introduce new topics and modernize the architectural infrastructure and visitor amenities. So we were faced with sorting out which of our original content areas and aspects of our “garage” aesthetic to keep and which to change. This presentation will share how we balanced these different considerations while attempting to preserve the core of the authentic Exploratorium.