Gas station without pumps

2013 August 18

Exploratorium having financial problems

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 13:08
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A newspaper article from Friday talks about hard times at one of my favorite museums: Exploratorium cuts 18% of staff as attendance lags.  It seems that they are losing their big financial bet on pulling in lots of tourist dollars by moving to a new waterfront location (from the lovely old Palace of Fine Arts from the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition).

I’ve not been to see the new Exploratorium yet, which is supposedly 3 times the size of the old one.  It’s gotten good reviews (the old favorite exhibits are still there and they have new ones), but people are complaining about the increase in price (from $15 to $25, if I’m reading the complaints right).  The increase in price may have something to do with the lower-than-expected attendance.

It worries me that they are reducing their staff already—and I’m curious which staff they are getting rid of.  If they are losing the executives who did poor financial planning for the move, it might be a good thing.  If they are losing the staff who design, build, and maintain the exhibits, it could be a rapid downward spiral. Knowing how most organizations work, they’re probably keeping incompetent executives and firing those who do the real work.

I suppose I’d better make plans to visit the Exploratorium this winter (on a school day, to minimize crowding), lest the museum suddenly discover they’ve lost even more money and close completely.



  1. I visited the new Exploratorium a couple weeks ago. I have been a big fan, and loved the original location as well as the Palace of Fine Arts location. I love the new Exploratorium even more. I learned a ton, and found myself constantly having my mind pushed to explore assumptions I’ve held, and new ideas I hadn’t. I saw so many deeply engaged kids (and adults) of all ages and backgrounds. Since I’ll be teaching 3rd/4th grade science next year, I also found myself taking lots of pictures to steal ideas for the brilliant ways they have to convey concepts and foster thinking.They do a great job of using aesthetics to attract one’s interest, then present an idea, but have different levels so that the more time you spend with an exhibit, the more you realize how brilliantly it was designed. It would be an immeasurable loss were they to close.

    Comment by Ron Goodman — 2013 August 18 @ 15:04 | Reply

    • Ron, will you be home schooling, or will you be teaching at one of the local schools?

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2013 August 19 @ 07:46 | Reply

      • I teach in the Pacific School IS program, which is partly on-campus (70% of the time), part home school… but I’ll be teaching on campus to all the 3rd/4th graders in the program.

        Comment by Ron Goodman — 2013 August 19 @ 08:54 | Reply

  2. My daughter visited the new Exploratorium two weeks ago; she reports it’s a nice improvement over the old location. Tickets are indeed $25, but she paid the Bay Area discount ($15 for youth). I don’t know if they ask for any kind of residency evidence.

    Comment by Richard Masoner (@cyclelicious) — 2013 August 19 @ 10:05 | Reply

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