of an Exhibition

by Eric Siegel

Published on August 27, 2007

  • Description:

    We visited Explo with four kids ranging in age from 8-16. For two of them (our kids, 15 y/o twin girls), it was their first visit to the Exploratorium. Unprompted, the 15 y/o girls described MIND as their favorite exhibition. This is in the midst of all the explo phenomenological classics, so that is pretty impressive. The exhibition is still in rough form, with prototypical text and lots of plywood…actually not that different in appearance from the rest of the exhibition floor. The photo-opp-ish “sip of conflict” which invites visitors to drinking from a toilet is kind of a visual centerpiece of the exhibition. There is a nicely done booth called “limelight” in which the visitor is prompted to speak with unpredictable responses from a large recorded audience, from catcalls to cheers, to which one might have very strong responses. Sam Easterton’s “animal cam” videos are always fascinating, though the connection to the exhibition theme is a bit sketchy. My daughters particularly enjoyed “startle” which features a slow motion video of the visitor responding to an unexpected sound. And just in case you forget you are in San Francisco, Minds features a meditative moment a column of white fabric with reclined seats underneath allowing visitors to relax to a cloudlike projected landscape. All-in-all, a distinctive addition to the Explo’s durable permanent installations. For the most part, the exhibit components retain the institutions commitment to exhibits that are less about explanation than they are about experience. I am glad they are adhering to this approach, and judging by the very busy weekday crowd of families, their audience appreciates the eye-openers and mind-expanders as well.

Latest Comments (1)

Research psychologists comment

by Wendy Pollock - March 24, 2008

The Association for Psychological Science has reviewed the Mind exhibition in the March 2008 issue of its publication Observer. APS is especially interested in ways the Exploratorium turned psychological research into exhibits(like Competent Candidates, derived from research by APS member Alexander Todorov, where visitors make judgments based on split-second exposure to faces). APS members, like UC Berkeley’s Steven Palmer, a Mind advisor who’s cited in the article, are also interested in possibilities for doing research within the exhibition.

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