Exploratorium | i |
name: Exploratorium
location: San Francisco, CA (USA)

The Exploratorium in San Francisco, CA, USA, is one of the first science museums operating on a non-traditional design. They want to attract many young people, and want them to run around, to explore, enjoy, and follow their own paths more than some historio-logical plan.

The Exploratorium is located on the former site of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, The Fair, of 1915.

The arts are usually not the Exploratorium’s domain. But in 1969, the site became the third venue for the show of cybernetic and computer-based works, called Cybernetic Serendipity. This remarkable show had opened in London, UK, a year before.

For the Exploratorium it was the first big exhibition at all. Frank Oppenheimer – founder of the location – recounts:

»Many, many museums, from our very beginning, have been extraordinarily helpful to the Exploratorium. When I first started, I distributed our initial proposal widely. I sent one to Charles Blitzer at the Smithsonian, who I had met at the Burlington conference. An assistant of his, Diana Hamilton, got interested in it and wrote me that she thought it was most promising. So we met and she became our “agent” in Washington, with a modest retainer. She discovered for us the exhibit at the Corcoran Annex called Cybernetic Serendipity, which had been put together by the Institute for Contemporary Arts in London. She very wisely thought it would be a good beginning for our Exploratorium. So we talked with Renato Danise at the Corcoran Annex and he persuaded ICA in London to let us have it. He also looked into commercial transportation and found that it was much too expensive for us. So the Corcoran staff loaded Cybernetic Serendipity into a rental truck, drove it to San Francisco, and even helped us set it up. It was indeed a most important beginning for our place for it really set the stage for the kind of work we wanted to do because it combined perception, art, technology and science in a wonderful way. We still have some of its exhibit pieces that we purchased when the exhibit was disbursed 18 months later. (We originally had permission to show it for only six weeks.)«
Frank Oppenheimer: Exploration and Discovery, acceptance speech for the AAM Distinguished Service Award – June 21, 1982

Frank Oppenheimer talks about Cybernetic Serendipity in the Exploratorium.

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