The Tinkering Studio

While at the museum, we got an inside perspective of how the Exploratorium creates an environment that supports curiosity to its fullest potential. First, we visited the Tinkering Studio, which is a place for visitors to truly create whatever they can imagine and explore new worlds of science in their own way. This studio is a place to inspire people to explore their own curiosities. Inside the room rested a small table, cluttered with electrical circuits and other tools and gadgets, with no manual on how to operate the devices that are there to encourage visitors to harness their own capable hands and minds. “The Tinkering studio is just a place to slow down and discover science,” said Kali. “The main point is to empower people to try things out. No one tells you what to do here, it’s about what your interests are. I really like that the Exploratorium has a culture of letting people try stuff,” she said. “The tinkering studio is really the heart of the gallery.”

On the way to the Tinkering studio, visitors can also examine the Exploratorium innovators hard at work in the employee workshop, where they come up with new exhibit ideas. The glass walled room allows anyone passing to watch their ideas come to life. “The philosophy of the museum has a lot to do with empowering people to try new things,” she said.

We’d outgrown our old building… With this location, we are bigger, so we can continue to try new things.

The tinkering studio provides a space to slow down and often at the tinkering studio, people will stay for up to two hours, which is a unique experience in the museum. From soldering irons to glue guns, the Tinkering studio also provides a space to interact with tools safely. She said, “That spirit to be willing to try things and ask questions is really powerful.”

The Learning Center

While visiting the Exploratorium, we visited The Learning Studio, where the staff comes up with new exhibits, discusses them, and tries them out before bringing them to the public. Unlike the Tinkering studio, which was created for visitors to slow down and investigate, the Learning Studio is a space is mostly for staff or people who come in for professional developmental workshops. The Studio, created by directors Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petriano was filled with a jumble of tables of different heights, a 3 by 4 foot window, and passionate workers. And lots of tools. Not just your ordinary tools, but all sorts of objects and materials, fabrics and tinkering devices. “The Learning Studio is a space where we develop things. Before we try stuff out there with visitors, we try them in here with ourselves,” she said. “One of my favorite parts of this room is the wall of materials. You never know what materials will help you come up with a solution for a problem.”