Recognizing the value of making science available to a broad audience—especially to youth and children—in a way that’s accessible and fun, many corporations have collaborated with the Exploratorium to bring our exhibits and philosophy to new audiences. Some noteworthy partnerships are described below.
Make Magazine and Pixar Animation Studios
The current Do-It-Yourself or Maker culture, which promotes hands-on experimentation, collaboration, and creation, dovetails nicely with the Exploratorium’s philosophy. The movement has become so popular that in 2006 Make magazine launched the Maker Faire—a national event held in the Bay Area that attracts over 120,000 visitors a year. Wanting to give more young people the opportunity to make things and exhibit their creations, Make, Pixar Animation Studios, and the Exploratorium’s Tinkering Studio got together and founded the Young Makers program in 2010. The program connects youth ages 12 to 17 with adult mentors who meet in clubs in various locations and then meet monthly at the Exploratorium. In 2012, nearly seventy Young Makers projects were exhibited at the Maker Faire.
We’ve had a long-standing relationship with Sony Corporation, starting with a visit in 1987 by Sony founders Masaru Ibuka and Akio Morita. They had a strong interest in education and were intrigued by what they saw. Sony subsequently sponsored a very successful traveling exhibition of Exploratorium exhibits that toured Japan. In the mid-1990s, Sony decided to create a science museum in Beijing, Sony ExploraScience, as an educational gift to the Chinese people. Given their experience with the quality and uniqueness of our exhibits, they asked the Exploratorium to develop a science museum that blended an interactive exhibit experience with Sony media technology. We provided exhibits as well as Explainer training and museum design consultation. The exhibits on light and color and sound worked especially well with the media technology, and ExploraScience was a big hit. After the Beijing project was completed, we developed a second version of ExploraScience in Tokyo.
People’s Republic of China Association for Science and Technology
An earlier exhibition, The Exploratorium Exhibition China, opened in 1994 for a three-month show at the Museum of Chinese Revolution and History. It was sponsored by a consortium of US, Hong Kong, and Chinese companies under the auspices of the People’s Republic of China Association for Science and Technology.
Our first corporate collaboration was with IBM in 1986. The IBM Gallery of Science and Art in IBM’s Manhattan headquarters was the site of an exhibition called Seeing the Light with the Exploratorium—a show that included more than eighty exhibits about light, color, and visual perception. IBM contacted the Exploratorium because it wanted to host a science exhibition that would interest the general public and also illustrate innovative ways of presenting science. In addition to developing the show, we provided classroom activities for schools planning to attend, and we worked with the New York City Department of Education to plan workshops for elementary school teachers.
The Exploratorium has collaborated with many corporate R&D laboratories over the years. We worked with the Apple MultiMedia Lab in the development of interactive multimedia educational applications, we collaborated with HP Labs and Intel to develop museum-based handheld applications, and we served as a test site for Google development of place-based applications.