About the Exploratorium

The Exploratorium is a portal to the astonishing scientific phenomena that animate our world and shape our actions. We create extraordinary learning experiences that ignite curiosity, upend perceptions, and inspire brave leaps forward. Since 1969, the Exploratorium’s museum in San Francisco has been home to a renowned collection of exhibits that draw together science, art, and human perception, and that have changed the way science is taught. Our award-winning programs provide a forum for the public to engage with artists, scientists, policymakers, educators, and tinkerers to explore the world around them. We celebrate diversity of thought, inspired investigation, and collaboration across all boundaries.

Exploratorium’s home at Pier 15
Exploratorium’s home at Pier 15
Exploratorium’s home at Pier 15 © Exploratorium, www.exploratorium.edu

8 Reasons Why the Exploratorium is San Francisco’s Most Iconic Travel Destination

San Francisco’s Exploratorium—the world’s most experimental and interactive museum has a new home at Pier 15 on San Francisco’s waterfront. Millions of people have visited the Exploratorium’s spectacular new location to touch, tinker and play with over 600 interactive exhibits. So, why is the Exploratorium one of the most iconic San Francisco attractions?

1. It is the perfect place to see the city and the Bay. The Exploratorium’s new home is on San Francisco’s historic waterfront, between the Ferry Building and Fisherman’s Wharf. With sweeping views of the city skyline, Coit Tower, the Bay Bridge, and Treasure Island from our glass-walled Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery & Terrace, you’ll see more of San Francisco—and see it differently—than you will anywhere else.

2. It was born out of the mind-expanding idealism of the 1960’s and is still a beacon of innovation today. Founded by Frank Oppenheimer in 1969, the Exploratorium is rooted in San Francisco's history of creativity and independent spirit, and our ethos of experimentation and interactivity has made us a world influencer. If you want to understand San Francisco culture—then and now—start at the Exploratorium.

3. It's been a playground for generations of entrepreneurs, makers, scientists, artists and educators. Our engaging interactive exhibits combine elements of art, science and human perception, and have inspired influential people to see the world differently. Come see what all the fuss is about.

4. It's a learning laboratory where people of all ages can tinker and play. Whether you’re 6 or 64, our hands-on experiences ignite curiosity and lead to profound learning. We’re always growing and changing, just like you.

5. We love science, but we’re not just a science museum. Some of the most inspired and thought-provoking artists of our day—including Brian Eno, Tauba Auerbach, Ruth Asawa and Amy Balkin—have created works in the vibrant laboratory that is the Exploratorium.

6. Kids love us, but we’re not just for kids. Every week, adults 18 and over can experience the Exploratorium during our Thursday evening hours from 6:00–10:00 p.m. Where else can you sip cocktails, dance in a tornado, build a scribbling machine, and make your own stop-motion animations, all in the same night? Our signature After Dark events are one of the few truly interactive adults-only attractions in San Francisco.

Exploratorium’s home at Pier 15
Exploratorium’s home at Pier 15
Exploratorium’s home at Pier 15 © Exploratorium, www.exploratorium.edu

7. We’re not just here, we’re everywhere. Our Global Studios team collaborates on projects all over the globe—from Arkansas to Abu Dhabi. Eighty percent of science centers internationally use Exploratorium exhibits, programs, or ideas. Where else in the world have you seen us?

8. You can get into it—for free. Exploratorium exhibits and experiences spill into the free public space along San Francisco’s vibrant Embarcadero, giving curious passersby a taste of the wonderland that lies inside. Immerse yourself in the experimental and eye-opening project of our Over The Water art series or take a ride in the Rickshaw Obscura and see the scenery upside down.


Open Hours: Tuesday–Sunday 10:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m. and every Thursday evening (18+) 6:00–10:00 p.m. Closed Mondays except select holidays. Easily accessible by BART and Muni. 

Cruise Ship Terminal

James R. Herman Cruise Terminal at Pier 27 is the newest addition to San Francisco waterfront. Built in 2014.

The Cruise Terminal boasts 91,000 square feet in a two-story building with views to the Bay Bridge and back to the City skyline and Telegraph Hill. Sized for 2,600 passengers and able to handle ships with up to 4,000, the Terminal is built for the evolving trends in the passenger cruise industry When in berth, ships can plug into the Port’s 12 megawatt shore power system to receive the cleanest source of power. The terminal has a new shore power technology which allows equipped cruise liners (like Princess’ or Carnival's vessels) to use the city's grid power system instead of their diesel engines to supply onboard services while berthed / docked. This innovation reduces the ships’ emissions at the cruise terminal.

Pier-27 James R-Herman-Cruise-Terminal-at-Pier-27-San-francisco
Pier-27 James R-Herman-Cruise-Terminal-at-Pier-27-San-francisco
Pier-27 James R-Herman-Cruise-Terminal-at-Pier-27-San-francisco

Exploratorium and Cruise Ship Terminal is featured on:

  • Private Charter
    Lucky Tuk Tuk at Night Private Charter - San Francisco Lights Tour

    Available Late Afternoons and Evenings

    5 PM or 6 PM

    How long?
    Approx. 2 hours
    Late Afternoons and Evenings
    Do we fit?
    Seats 6 (Ages 5+)
    How much?
    From $380.00

    Explore San Francisco at night in a cozy, electric Tuk Tuk! Get up close to the glittering lights and go where buses don’t dare in this modern-day rickshaw. Live commentary included!