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TideGate / Plankton Wall / Electric Sun Wall

For Immediate Release:
April 09, 2013

Media Available
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367

TideGate / Plankton Wall / Electric Sun Wall

Exterior Design Features by Exploratorium Art Director Mark McGowan

Drawing from information on the tides, living organisms found in the bay, and the modern miracle of harvesting solar energy, Mark McGowan, Art Director for the Exhibit Environments at the Exploratorium, devised three exterior art pieces that enhance the overall impact of the museum’s new site. “My goal was to use the building’s otherwise neutral architectural features to visually display things that would normally be invisible,” he says. “I wanted these pieces to express something about the site and what’s there—the tides, the bay water, and the equipment that’s contributing to the museum’s net-zero energy goal—in a visual way.”

One piece, the TideGate, is based on data drawn from NOAA’s historic Tidal Database for Crissy Field Station (the official federal government site in San Francisco Bay), which has been actively recording tidal data since the late 1800s.

This 8-foot-tall structure takes one month’s worth of tide charts from 1969 (the year the Exploratorium first opened to the public) and overlays them into a composite image of 28 undulating curves. The tides in the Bay normally rise and fall as much as 8 feet—the same height as the gate, so visitors can compare themselves to the height of the local tides. Fabricated from 8 panels of waterjet-cut steel, the TideGate was crafted in Berkeley by Henry DeFauw.  

On the Bay Observatory Terrace, facing the bay, visitors will find Plankton Wall, a segment of building wall adorned with a randomized grid of what appear to be patterned circles. These circles are abstract versions of sketches initially created by Karli Woodward, Living Systems Technician, of four different types of baywater plankton. The myriad holes that comprise the pattern were die-cut; the entire design is made up of combinations of only 6 differently sized circles. The wall’s steel panels were fabricated by A. Zahner, an engineering and fabrication company based in Kansas City, Missouri.

The Electric Sun Wall, along the south side of Pier 15, references a modified schematic of the museum’s complex photovoltaic energy system. The design elegantly expresses what’s going on behind the ten-foot wall of half-inch-thick steel plates, where photovoltaic energy gathered from the museum’s solar panels is converted into usable electricity.

The tides, the bay water, and energy from the sun—these are some of what inspires and powers the museum at its new site. When you pass through the TideGate or soak in the view with the Plankton Wall at your back, take a little time to enjoy the thought-provoking connections between where you are and what you see.

Hours of Operation & New Evening Hours
Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm;  every Thursday evening adults only (ages 18 and up) 6pm-10pm.

$29 for adults, with lower rates for SF Bay Area residents, youth, seniors, students, teachers and the disabled. Tickets available at the door and advance tickets available online at www.exploratorium.edu/visit/tickets.

Getting Here
The Exploratorium is easily accessible by public transit. Convenient parking is available nearby. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit/location-directions

About the Exploratorium
The Exploratorium is the global leader in informal learning, igniting curiosity and inspiring creativity in people of all ages. The world-renowned science museum creates original, interactive exhibits, on display at more than 1,000 science centers, museums and public spaces around the world. Dedicated to education reform in and out of the classroom, the Exploratorium is a premier professional development center for educators and a creator of award-winning educational resources. Since 1969, the Exploratorium has influenced generations of entrepreneurs, artists, scientists, teachers, students, children, museum professionals and everyday doers, reaching nearly 180 million people annually from around the globe. On April 17, 2013, the Exploratorium opened at Pier 15 in the heart of San Francisco's Embarcadero, where it will celebrate a new era of experiences that encourage critical thinking and awaken wonder for generations to come. For more information, visit www.exploratorium.edu/visit.

Pier 15
San Francisco
California 94111
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Contact Us:
Jenny Slafkosky (415) 528-4367