Life as an Extreme Sport

The Exploratorium

The Palace of Fine ArtsThe first time I dissected a cow eye, I was at The Exploratorium in San Francisco, a fantastic science museum that was housed on an absolutely beautiful campus, a part of the Palace of Fine Arts. Those of you of the right age and not from San Francisco will recognize this as where Seal’s “Kiss from a Rose” video was filmed – for me, it was always the fun science place.Those of you with very long memories will also note that this is where I got married, once upon a time. That was more needing a pretty outside place in January in San Francisco, though, than any particular link between that marriage and the location.

I think of the museum fondly, and somewhat frequently. It was always fun to run around the Palace (before or after playing in the museum), it’s part of one of my favourite urban fantasy novels, and it is very much one of the places that fueled my love of science, hands-on exploration, and discovery. I learned about optics and illusions and concepts of surface strength via bubbles, there. They made math fun, they made science an adventure, and they let everyone play, regardless of age. It was a fantastic, phenomenal place.

I’m talking about it in past-tense, which isn’t fair or accurate – the Exploratorium still exists. But when I was looking up information to share with Nick this morning,A conversation based on the idea of doing things you’re told not to do and the Mythbusters, of course. I had a rather surprising shock: the Exploratorium has moved.

They’re on Pier 15/17 now, or will be come mid-April. I’m so thrilled that they’ve grown enough in size and staff and exhibits to need a larger space. In an age where it seems like science isn’t valued and museums are always under threat of budget cuts and closures, that the Exploratorium can move and expand is beyond fabulous. But it’s also a little sad, at least for me – another small but seminal piece of my childhood gone. I guess it’s a sands-through-hourglass thing; changes continuing apace. And there have been a lot of changes lately.Not, mind, that I’m complaining. Especially the cleaning the house related bits, just because it’s nice to get rid of things after having done so and then had Unexpected Life Events create a somewhat untenable situation of too many items, some with memories that made dealing with difficult. But I think it’s also easier to notice change when you’re in the middle of change, especially change that runs hard with nostalgia and memory.