Exhibit at the Exploratorium


I have a photo exhibit of my salt pond photographs up in the Exploratorium’s new Pier 15 home.

Exploratorium exhibit

The exhibit cascades across three walls flanking a stair that leads from the biology exhibit area to a mezzanine-level area addressing landscapes.

For the last forty years or so the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s venerable science museum, occupied the Palace of Fine Arts, a cavernous Beaux Arts building that served as the centerpiece of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition. A few years ago the museum decided to relocate and selected Pier 15 on the city’s Embarcadero as a new site. Thus began a massive project with architects Esherick, Homesy, Dodge, and Davis to transform the pier into a home worthy of the Exploratorium’s heritage of hands-on science education. The results will soon be public with a grand opening on 17 April 2013. Having seen the project develop I can report that it is a grand success. The original pier building retains its wonderful utilitarian nature and offers visitors the fine experience of occupying a threshold between bay and city. A new glass structure at the end of the pier – the Observatory – provides the perfect foil to the darker volumes of the pier proper and an ambitious program to “uncover the stories embedded in a place by directly observing the geography, history, and ecology of the San Francisco Bay region.”

Exploratorium exhibit - early sketch

An early sketch of the exhibit idea from Mark McGowan at the Exploratorium.

During a sabbatical leave ten years ago I had the great fortune to serve as an Artist-in-Residence at the Exploratorium and have kept in touch, working on occasional projects over the ensuing years. My Hidden Ecologies Project, and the salt pond landscape work it spawned, originated during that sabbatical. So, I was particularly delighted when they commissioned an exhibit of photographs from my salt pond work for the new building. The exhibit is made of fifty-seven 9” x 12” prints mounted in a tight grid. The twelve rows of photographs are placed on three walls adjacent to, and above, a stair that leads from the ground floor biology exhibit area (with halophile tanks adjacent to the photographs!) toward the second floor Observatory and an exhibit area on landscapes.

Exploratorium exhibit - photo layout

The layout guide for the photograph array, which spans three walls (best viewed large).

I had a great time working on the photo layout with the idea that lines, colors, and shapes would tie the multiple images together when seen from a distance while each image would hold its own on close inspection. Yesterday, Claudia and I attended a preview event for the museum opening and I saw the mounted installation for the first time. I am very pleased with the way it turned out.

The exhibit realized:

Exploratorium exhibit

Exploratorium exhibit

Exploratorium exhibit

Exploratorium exhibit

Exploratorium exhibit

Exploratorium exhibit - signage

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