Uncover the Bay Area's storied geographic history at the Fisher Bay Observatory

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Monday, December 11, 2023
The Fisher Bay Observatory uncovers SF's geographic history
Explore how our local landscape came to be at this enlightening Exploratorium exhibit.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The Exploratorium invites visitors to dive into the history, geography, and ecology of the Bay Area through curated observation. It's all part of the museum's enlightening exhibit, the Fisher Bay Observatory.

"In this room, the Bay Observatory, we do our work on climate and landscape," said Susan Schwartzenberg, the Senior Curator at the Exploratorium. "Bringing ideas to the public about this extraordinary place where we live."

The observatory is a gallery of exhibits, instruments, and artworks that uncover the San Francisco Bay Area's storied history through interaction and observation.

"One of the ways that the Fisher Bay Observatory involves people is by moving beyond its walls," said Shawn Lani, the Director of Studio for Public Places at the Exploratorium. "What we're talking about in that glass box is happening in their neighborhoods, it's happening along the waterfront, it's happening along places that they care about."

The indoor/outdoor exhibition showcases breathtaking views of the Bay to serve as an entry point for curiosity and observation. Visitors can access the same tools and methods that scientists utilize to gather information to help us understand our world.

"The interesting thing about the Bay Observatory is, unlike other rooms in the Exploratorium, it's full of light. So, when people come into the observatory, the first thing they do is dash to the window," said Schwartzenberg. "Everyone is fascinated with seeing the Bay. So, first people are stunned, and then they begin to slowly use our exhibits and learn a little bit more about how the landscape looks and is the way it is today."

The observatory is a place where history and different perspectives intertwine for a nuanced approach to thinking about climate change.

"We can look to the past to really think about what our future is going to look like," said Emma Greenbaum, the Project Director of Climate and Landscapes at the Exploratorium. "We want to think about what kind of values should drive that transformation."

The conversation continues with the Exploratorium's program series "Conversations about Landscape" where artists, policymakers, community members and more can discuss various environmental topics.

"What I hear is people being really inspired," said Greenbaum. "I think we set up a place where people feel a bit more safe...to be exploring, to be thinking about how could this be different, how can I be a part of shaping where my community is and where we're going."

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