The 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.
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,
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.