This summer, visitors to The Exploratorium in San Francisco are invited to check out The Art of Tinkering exhibition. Part of the Tinkering Studio, the exhibition is an immersive, active, creative place where visitors can slow down, become deeply engaged in an investigation of scientific phenomena, and make something that fully represents their artistic ideas.
The educational potential of tinkering is important. The Tinkering Studio and The Art of Tinkering exhibition will offer museum visitors a rich version of tinkering that empowers science learning – it provides audiences with firsthand experiences with scientific phenomena through play art and expert facilitation.
In the Tinkering Studio, visitors are invited to explore a curiosity-driven exhibit, chat with a featured artist, or investigate a range of phenomena with staff artists, scientists, educators and others by participating in a collaborative activity. A large, eclectic assortment of materials, tools, and technologies are provided for people to use as they explore and create.
The Art of Tinkering can be enjoyed by all, and inspires creativity through art with a wide array of materials including cardboard, blocks, items found in nature, and even dry pasta! Artists and experts at the exhibition also provide detailed information about their projects which are highlighted on the Sketchpad blog.
When the pandemic hit in 2020, The Exploratorium, like other local museums, was forced to close its doors and pivot to online learning platforms. They managed to create a vast online learning program and continue ongoing exploration of science, art and human perception. This experience makes the return of visitors to the floor that much sweeter.
The Exploratorium has been an important foundation partner on a variety of projects throughout the years. In 2011, we provided start-up support that enabled the creation of the Tinkering Studio – a now central fixture on the Exploratorium’s floor. Over the years, the Tinkering Studio has become a model space, program, and professional development effort that has allowed visitors to enjoy exploring the playful side of science, technology and engineering; while also engaging in powerful learning.
Images of museum guests enjoying Exploratorium's Art of Tinkering exhibit; courtesy of the Exploratorium.