Exploratorium to debut outside fog exhibit


ABC7 News is the Exploratorium's official television partner and we've already shown you a lot of the new exhibits planned for inside the building. Now, here's is an exclusive first look at some of what they're planning outside.

The Exploratorium spent its first 44 years at the Palace of Fine Arts, creating a reputation for cutting-edge science and art exhibits.

The new building at Pier 15 offers three times the space and a first for the Exploratorium, a permanent spot for outside exhibits. That space was created out of a giant parking lot on the north side of the building. It's now ready for new life as an outdoor oasis. For the first six months, that life will be filled with fog.

We watched a trial run of a fog sculpture created by Japanese artist Fujiko Nakaya, who's here to oversee the installation. When the work is finished, visitors on the bridge will be engulfed by fog.

"It's art that you can look at and observe, but you can also experience and be in. It's an immersive experience," said Eric Dimond, the assistant outdoor works curator.

And when you step off the bridge, the fog puts on a show. The fog will operate every half hour. When it clears, you'll be able to see artist Chris Bell's creation.

We watched Bell as he moved around in an inflatable boat testing little mirrors that will eventually create a light show with reflected sun on the rafters. Right now there are just a few, but the finished work will have 1,000.

Another exhibit in the works will allow you to dial up your own custom rain storm, adjusting the size, speed and frequency of the drops. This will be an outdoor exhibit, but it's being perfected inside under controlled conditions.

"The prototyping process is a very, very delicate one, where you are finding things out, you are getting excited about certain aspects of playing around with the prototype and then you're constantly thinking, 'How are we going to recreate what's happening for us for the visitor?'" said Shawn Lani, the outdoor works curator.

A musical metal bridge was dreamed up by Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart. He wanted to play music on a model of the Golden Gate Bridge. Exploratorium engineers made it happen.

After weeks of fine-tuning, Hart actually played the model at the anniversary celebration for the real bridge. Now the instrument is being rebuilt in a form that Exploratorium visitors can play.

ABC7 News Exploratorium special:
This Sunday at 6:30 p.m. on ABC7 News, you can get a preview when we present the special: "More to Explore, The Making of the New Exploratorium." ABC7 News anchor Dan Ashley be hosting the half-hour special with an exclusive inside look at San Francisco's newest treasure.

Opening day for the Exploratorium is April 17, 2013.

written and produced by Jennifer Olney

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