The Outdoor Exploratorium is a free installation of science and art exhibits surrounding Fort Mason in San Francisco’s Marina District, curated by the Exploratorium museum, world-famous for making science accessible to kids of all ages. On the course of a gentle stroll through this beautiful area, on a trail that hugs the bay coastline connecting Fisherman’s Wharf with the Marina district, you’ll discover cool wonders, like a secret shack that tracks the skies with beautiful daily snapshots. There’s absolutely no charge or fee: all you need in order to explore is the map of exhibits, which you can download for free from the Outdoor Exploratorium Website.
One of the highlights is the “House of Days” exhibit, on McDowell Road. Tucked into a seemingly non-descript and easily-missed small white shack called the Searchlight Building, this exhibit sits right on the edge between science and art, and grabs the imagination of anyone who peeks inside. The house is equipped with a camera that grabs snapshots of the sky over the bay’s waters, and which you can use the trackpad to browse and arrange by day, hour, week, or month, for a gorgeous custom panorama displayed on the interior house’s walls, which you glimpse through your window from the outside. It’s like a hidden treasure chest of photos sitting on the side of the walking trail. Kids appreciate its “top secret” feeling, and love the chance to play with and control the display.
“House of Days” is just one of the 17 individual exhibits created through this unique partnership between the Exploratorium, the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, and the Fort Mason Center. Every display is open whenever the park is open, i.e., until dusk every day. Since there’s no admission charge, it’s easy to stop by just to check out a few things, although if your kids are old enough to focus for a full afternoon, it’s easy to spend that long, and you may find them demanding repeat trips!
Discovering things on your own is plenty of fun, but when you go back for your second or third trip, try downloading the Outdoor Exploratorium audio guide, which offers .mp3 files you can load onto a mobile device like an iPod. The information you’ll get from these soundbytes are great for helping your kids learn more about the exhibits. Why not enrich the experience by helping your family get a deeper understanding of the science behind the fun?
The Outdoor Exploratorium – Official Website