Kevin Warnock

Entrepreneurship, ideas and more

The final day at The Exploratorium science museum at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California – January 2, 2013

without comments

Palace of Fine Arts about an hour before sunset on January 2, 2013, the final day of operation of The Exploratorium science museum at that location.

Palace of Fine Arts about an hour before sunset on January 2, 2013, the final day of operation of The Exploratorium science museum at that location.

Earlier today I took an emotional trip down memory lane by photographing the world famous Exploratorium science museum during its final hour at its building at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California USA. On Friday, April 12, 2013, the Exploratorium opens at its new location at Pier 15, on the historic waterfront north of Market Street and near the Ferry Building in San Francisco. Pier 15 is served by historic restored street cars that stop in front, so I predict that many more people will visit, since the original location is rather difficult to access, and parking in particular is a nightmare.

Bell ringers smile as they celebrate the start of a new chapter for the Exploratorium, January 2, 2013

Bell ringers smile as they celebrate the start of a new chapter for the Exploratorium, January 2, 2013

If invited by the Exploratorium staff, for example after they discover this post, I will cover the opening event on this blog, and I will photograph it with the same quality technique I used for the photographs that accompany this post. If not invited, I will wait for a free admission day to visit.

I used my Canon 5D Mark II camera for these pictures. I uploaded the pictures at full camera resolution of 21 megapixels. Click on them to see them at full size. I used a tripod for many of the shots, and since it’s so dark inside the Exploratorium, many of the pictures were made with time exposures of up to 8 seconds. That accounts for the blurred people in some of the shots. I like that the blurring suggests lots of busy activity at the museum, which is definitely true. The tripod shots were taken at ISO 100, so the image quality is outstanding. The handheld shots were taken at ISO settings as high as 6,400, and the quality suffers. I should have brought a flash so that I could have taken more photographs of visitors experiencing the exhibits.

I love and admire The Exploratorium museum above all others. The Exploratorium teaches visitors about the world we all live in, and it does it in such an engaging and fun way that visitors keep coming back, over decades. The exterior wall of the large gift shop was covered with sweet notes from visitors, and these note cards were grouped by decade. Even the 1970s section had over 100 cards on it.

The Exploratorium opened in 1969.

The Exploratorium has exhibits that seed the imagination, so this museum helps human kind progress. I think The Exploratorium is more effective at seeding the imagination than even the traditional great museums of the world such as The Louvre.

I almost missed this special day, and had it not been for the website Funcheap San Francisco which lists free or inexpensive ways to have fun in my favorite city. I subscribe to the site’s Facebook page, and a status update to that page alerted me to the final day I am covering here.

Here below is a sequence of photographs that give you a tour of this large museum space, starting and the front, then moving to the upper deck level, and finally showing the back of the museum from the deck.

View from shortly past the front entrance to the Palace of Fine Arts Exploratorium, January 2, 2013, minutes before closing time.

View from shortly past the front entrance to the Palace of Fine Arts Exploratorium, January 2, 2013, minutes before closing time.

The workshop where the exhibits are built, January 2, 2013. Note that it appears to me that many of the big shop tools have already been removed.

The workshop where the exhibits are built, January 2, 2013. Note that it appears to me that many of the big shop tools have already been removed.

The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day - picture 9, January 2, 2013. Photograph by Kevin Warnock.

The upper deck that overlooks the workshop area at the Palace of Fine Arts Exploratorium, January 2, 2013.

Looking toward the front entrance to the Exploratorium during the final hour of operation at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013. Look at the echo chamber pipe in the upper right of the frame.

Looking toward the front entrance to the Exploratorium during the final hour of operation at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013. Look at the echo chamber pipe in the upper right of the frame.

A 6 second long exposure of the upper deck at The Exploratorium on its final day at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013

A 6 second long exposure of the upper deck at The Exploratorium on its final day at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013

A view from the upper deck of gift shop at The Exploratorium, January 2, 2013

A view from the upper deck of gift shop at The Exploratorium, January 2, 2013

A side view from the upper deck looking toward the back of The Exploratorium on January 2, 2013

A side view from the upper deck looking toward the back of The Exploratorium on January 2, 2013

From the upper deck looking toward the back of The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013. Notice how most of the illumination is from the enormous skylights. It's always been dark inside, even when I was in high school. It's a good thing I brought my tripod to allow long time exposures.

From the upper deck looking toward the back of The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts, January 2, 2013. Notice how most of the illumination is from the enormous skylights. It's always been dark inside, even when I was in high school. It's a good thing I brought my tripod to allow long time exposures.

Now I will show you some of the exhibits. Note that no admission was charged today, so there were more visitors than normal. I only had one hour to take still pictures and video, so I was rushed.

The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day - picture 10, January 2, 2013

The weight at the end of the pole is balanced on a computer controlled screw drive

The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day - picture 11, January 2, 2013

A spinning exhibit with mirrors and toy action figures. When spun, a viewer looking into the mirrors sees an animation of all the figures.

The round disk in the table surface is rotating. Visitors try to place metal wheels onto the surface of the quickly rotating disk. If successful, the wheels roll mostly in place relative to the visitor. I remember this exhibit from my childhood.

The round disk in the table surface is rotating. Visitors try to place metal wheels onto the surface of the quickly rotating disk. If successful, the wheels roll mostly in place relative to the visitor. I remember this exhibit from my childhood.

Large parabolic shaped mirror demonstrates that light and heat can be focussed to a point. Note electric space heater pictured in the center of the mirror.

Large parabolic shaped mirror demonstrates that light and heat can be focused to a point. Note electric space heater pictured in the center of the mirror.

Colorful exhibit at The Exploratorium, January 2, 2013. Sadly, I was so rushed that I didn't learn what is being taught here.

Colorful exhibit at The Exploratorium, January 2, 2013. Sadly, I was so rushed that I didn't learn what is being taught here.

I remember this exhibit from when I was in high school. From a specific vantage point to the right, this looks like a solid triangle of wood. From this angle, it's quite a different shape. Memorable.

I remember this exhibit from when I was in high school. From a specific vantage point to the right, this looks like a solid triangle of wood. From this angle, it's quite a different shape. Memorable.

I remember this water vortex exhibit from when I was in high school. This plastic cylinder is about a meter across and 2 meters tall... impressive.

I remember this water vortex exhibit from when I was in high school. This plastic cylinder is about a meter across and 2 meters tall... impressive.

Large mechanical clock powered by energy stored in lifted concrete weights. This shot was taken at 4:35pm, 25 minutes before the Palace of Fine Arts Exploratorium closed forever on January 2, 2013.

Large mechanical clock powered by energy stored in lifted concrete weights. This shot was taken at 4:35pm, 25 minutes before the Palace of Fine Arts Exploratorium closed forever on January 2, 2013.

A child clapping into a long echo chamber tube, and listening to hear the sound of his clapping race to the end of the tube and back

A child clapping into a long echo chamber tube, and listening to hear the sound of his clapping race to the end of the tube and back

A model of an animal cell at The Exploratorium science museum at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California USA, January 2, 2013

A model of an animal cell at The Exploratorium science museum at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco, California USA, January 2, 2013

As I was leaving, I picked up a free poster advertising the new location for the museum, which will be Pier 15 on the San Francisco waterfront, downtown, near the Ferry Building.

Staff members handing out free promotional posters for the new Exploratorium that will open later this year near the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco. Picture taken January 2, 2013.

Staff members handing out free promotional posters for the new Exploratorium that will open later this year near the Ferry Building in downtown San Francisco. Picture taken January 2, 2013.

After the gates were closed, there was a private party, with speakers thanking those assembled.

The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day - picture 21, January 2, 2013. Photograph by Kevin Warnock.

Guests at private party after the closing of The Exploratorium on January 2, 2013 listen to remarks from various speakers over the public address system.

I set up my tripod outside the front door and posed for a self portrait to memorialize this memorable day.

Kevin Warnock, right, stands in front of The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day, January 2, 2013. Photograph taken via self timer.

Kevin Warnock, right, stands in front of The Exploratorium at The Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco on its final day, January 2, 2013. Photograph taken via self timer.

On my way back to my car, which I parked many blocks away, I set up my tripod one last time to take this ‘magic hour’ photograph of The Palace of Fine Arts.

The Palace of Fine Arts shortly after sunset on January 2, 2013, the final day the Exploratorium was open to the public.

The Palace of Fine Arts shortly after sunset on January 2, 2013, the final day the Exploratorium was open to the public.

Note that the Exploratorium posted a sign at the entrance warning visitors that pictures and video would be captured by many people today, and that some of the material would be published.

I will miss this original location. It’s industrial and gritty and feels authentic. Outside by the adjoining Palace of Fine Arts, the location is truly beautiful. I fear that the new location will be too new, sparkly and flashy, and that the glitz will remove the charm that permeates the original.

Written by Kevin Warnock

January 2nd, 2013 at 10:00 pm

Leave a Reply

Subscribe without commenting