San Francisco Exploratorium’s new digs at Pier 15 opening today — and they’re worth visiting


The Brain Exhibit is located in the Exploratorium’s West Gallery, which features exhibits focused on art, science, and human perception. Photo courtesy of SF Exploratorium/used with permission.

Ella McLeod, Staff Writer

Missing the astronaut ice cream at the Exploratorium?

Well, it’s back. After vacating its well-known habitat of 44 years at the Palace of Fine Arts, the Exploratorium has swiftly relocated to Pier 15, where it is scheduled to open its doors again on April 17.

The Exploratorium’s presence at the Palace of Fine Arts came to an end on Dec. 31 due to a lack of space. The building is expected to be taken over by the Town School for Boys.

The new location, available for private events, boasts clear views of both Angel Island and the Transamerica Pyramid building. Best of all, though, is the feeling of being surrounded, and almost at the same level as, the waters of San Francisco bay, just outside the various glass walls.

The site is ideal for attracting both tourists and San Franciscan natives, as it is close to many public transit options, including MUNI, and across the street from two parking lots.

Memberships range from $60 to $1000 with a variety of benefits based on the type of membership, like discounted admission to the legendary tactile dome, described by the Exploratorium’s website as “an interactive excursion through total darkness where your sense of touch becomes your only guide.”

Benefits also include access to family workshops, and priority registration and discounts to year-round day camps.

Single day tickets for Bay Area adults (18-64) cost $20, which is $5 off the price for those who are not Bay Area residents. Single day tickets for youth (6-17), teachers and students, seniors (65+), and people with disabilities cost $15, $4 off the outsider price. Children five years old and under are admitted free.

Though the rent is a mere $1 a year, the cost of Pier 15’s restoration made up for its far-from-San Francisco-level pricing. The Embarcadero’s Pier 15 was carefully chosen four years ago for the project, and has been under construction for two years now, as they had to completely restore the pier it rests on. The projected cost of the restoration was $300 million, a goal they may or may have not met by opening day.