Explore San Francisco

Get Hands-On at San Francisco’s Two Newest Museums

The Museum of Craft and Design and the Exploratorium offer interactive experiences.

Forget any notions about stuffy museums. The Museum of Craft and Design and the Exploratorium both offer fresh, interactive experiences.


The Design Geek’s Heaven

One of the few museums of its kind in the country, the Museum of Craft and Design (relocated to a Gary Hutton-designed industrial space with mobile walls in the up-and coming Dogpatch neighborhood) is a non-collecting institution showcasing innovative and contemporary artwork. This month’s featured exhibitions include “A Sense of Balance: The Sculpture of Stoney Lamar,” wood figures created on a multi-axial lathe that gives the wood smooth flowing lines. Also currently on show is “Obsessive Reductive,” an exclusive group exhibition of about 20 artists. The exceptionalism of the images and sculptures lies in the deduction of the medium (paper, wood and metal), at times resulting in intricate patterns or dominate negative space. The museum also houses an exquisite gift shop carrying jewelry, toys and ceramics. Its full calendar of public programming features MakeArt workshops for children. –Jessica Volk 2569 3rd St., San Francisco, 415.773.0303


An Exhibit for the Bold


Discover the Exploratorium's new Tactile Dome. (©Bruce Damonte)


San Francisco’s beloved Exploratorium moved to its spectacular waterfront location last spring, and now the museum is complete with the re-opening of its signature exhibit, the Tactile Dome. In complete darkness, you’ll have to rely on your sense of touch to clamber your way through a labyrinth-like sequence of chambers. August Coppola (father of Nicholas Cage and brother of director Francis Ford Coppola) was the mastermind behind the exhibit, created in the 1970s. The nine-acre museum features about 600 more interactive and playful exhibits, indoors and out. Must-sees include a model of the city constructed from more than 10,000 toothpicks, a fallen 330-year-old Douglas fir tree split down the center to reveal its rings and several marine exhibits involving the San Francisco Bay. (For the Tactile Dome, make reservations 1-2 weeks in advance.) Pier 15, San Francisco, 415.528.4444