The Exploratorium turns 40!40 years ago, a San Francisco icon was born, the Exploratorium. The museum was founded by Dr. Frank Oppenheimer, a famous physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project. After a short career as a physics professor (he was branded a communist during McCarthyism), Oppenheimer was inspired to supplement and improve science education. After spending time touring European museums in the early 60s, he devoted the next few years to develop an interactive museum in the U.S. In 1969, Dr. Frank Oppenheimer received a $50,000 grant from the San Francisco Foundation to start a new kind of museum at the Palace of Fine Arts.
The Exploratorium opened quietly that fall, slowly changing the way science museums are organized and oriented to their audiences. It combined a living laboratory, art, and interaction under one roof; the result is a place where science is accessible and owned by all.
In celebration of this anniversary, the Exploratorium is hosting a number of events at the museum over this weekend. Plus they are throwing in quite a treat…admission is free all weekend (November 7-8). For a full list of activities and an exceptional history of the museum, check out the Exploratorium’s 40th anniversary website.
Exploratorium After Dark: Electrifying Science with Dr. MegaVolt
When: Thursday 11/5, 6-10 PM
Cost: Free for members, $14 for non-members (Adults 21+ only)
Details: Blow your mind with the electrifying science of Tesla coils and Austin Richards, PhD—aka Dr. MegaVolt. This electrifying Exploratorium Science After Dark will feature Dr. MegaVolt jousting with 14-foot electrical arcs from his high voltage Tesla Coil.
Cutting Ice into One with a Motorcycle
When: Saturday 11/7
Details: Imagine a big block of ice suspended from the ceiling of the Exploratorium. Now imagine a wire wrapped around the middle of that ice block from which is hung a motorcycle. Chill out with other skeptics and watch the motorcycle fall to the floor as the wire very slowly cuts through the ice, but bear witness—the ice block remains one whole piece!
Iron Science Teacher
When: Sunday 11/8, 2-3 PM
Details: Cheer on the competitors in this zany science cook-off, where teachers compete before a live audience for the revered title, ‘Iron Science Teacher.’ In recognition of the Exploratorium’s 40th birthday, this special edition of our popular show features a secret ingredient closely related to birthdays!
Something Incredibly Wonderful Happens: Frank Oppenheimer and the World He Made Up – A Conversation with Author K.C. Cole
When: Sunday, 11/15 at 3 p.m
Cost: Free with admission to the museum
Details: Discover the never-before-told story of Frank Oppenheimer, physicist, educator, brother of J. Robert Oppenheimer, and founder of the Exploratorium. Believing that “without understanding, we’d all be sunk,” Frank Oppenheimer created the Exploratorium to be a museum of human awareness that combined art and science while encouraging play, experimentation, and a sense of joy and wonder.