We Make the Treasure

by Paul Ramirez Jonas

June 19, 2014–January 2015

Exploratorium Pier 15

At We Make the Treasure, the second installment in our Over the Water series of large-scale commissioned artworks, visitors were invited to explore the value of objects lost and recovered, above and below the water line. By traversing layers of present-day experience and forgotten history, users were able to investigate the visible and invisible forces that make something a treasure. 

Ephemeral, pulsing lines of air bubbles broke the surface of the water between Piers 15 and 17, suggesting the ghostly outline of the Beeswing, a schooner that sank on February 17, 1863, as it returned to San Francisco from Monterey. Near the bubbling wreck sat a rowboat loaded with mysterious cargo. Visitors were invited to interact with the imagined treasure of the Beeswing by using a crane to find and exchange a haul comprised of coin-sized objects of indeterminate value. 

We Make the Treasure was curated by the Exploratorium’s Center for Art & Inquiry in collaboration with the Studio for Public Space. Nato Thompson, chief curator of Creative Time in New York, served as advising curator.