Matt and I visited the Franklin Institute a few weeks ago on a rainy Saturday. The building is quite imposing. Definitely the most serious-looking science museum I have been to. After walking past the giant Ben Franklin statue in the rotunda, we checked out exhibits about sports, our changing earth, electricity, machines, and our bodies. We also walked through a giant heart, thump thump! Overall, the Franklin Institute is a cool, old building, but we were unimpressed with the exhibits. Oh well.
Rating: Mushroom (2/5)
We checked out the American Museum of Natural History in New York City when Matt visited in October! “Natural history” is a funny term. It makes me think of that shop, Paxton’s Gate, on Valencia, and of greenhouses filled with exotic plants. Parts of the museum reminded me of those things, particularly the spectacular dioramas filled with big game! The museum is impressive. We spent at least an hour and a half marveling at dinosaur bones on the fourth floor. Then, another forty-five minutes gawking at the dioramas. Old-fashioned and spectacular. Don’t miss it!
Rating: Alien (5/5)
There are two science museums in Tokyo, and we chose to visit the Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation because it was supposed to have more English displays. As you can probably tell from the name, the museum focuses on new ideas in science. Instead of the usual interactive physics and biology displays, the museum had extensive exhibits about robots, space, and disease. We saw a demonstration of ASIMO (creepy, surreal), walked through a partial replica of the international space station, and went to the special Doreamon exhibit on the future of human-robot interaction. The building itself is beautiful — filled with light and space. There is also a domed theater showing several movies throughout the day. While the idea of the museum is pretty cool, we were pretty disappointed with the exhibits. They seemed to lack substance and depth!
My firm’s holiday party was at the Exploratorium this year, which meant that I had to go for the sake of this blog :) The Exploratorium is in a beautiful part of the city — near the Palace of Fine Arts and Crissy Field. Although there were many interactive exhibits, some of them were broken, and I had seen many of them ten years ago. The exhibits covered biology (a live sheep’s eye dissection), the usual physics stuff, as well as some random topics like an exhibit on “cuteness.” This is a nice place to visit if you’re already in the Marina, but there wasn’t anything super-special about the museum.
Rating: Fish (3/5)
The Chabot Space and Science Center is located in a beautiful regional park in the Oakland Hills. (You can even camp there!) Obviously, the museum is space-focused, with rinky-dink exhibits on outer space and space flight memorabelia. Admission comes with TWO shows — one planeterium and one IMAX show. Perhaps overkill. However, the museums features three large telescopes, with free viewings every Friday and Saturday night. Bad. Ass.
Rating: Fish (3/5)
This museum is huge and covers a diverse set of topics! Animals, physics, geology, computer science, math, biology, and more! Some of the exhibits were interactive, but most of them were old school look-at-object-and-read-about-it types. The electricity demonstration with the Tesla coil was awesome! It’s definitely worth checking out!
Rating: Monkey / Alien (4.5/5)
The California Academy of Science looks and feels green and hip! It’s got a bumpy “living” roof — one bump for the planetarium and the other for the rain forest. It’s got an aquarium, a colorful coral tank, an itty-bitty rainforest, old school “africa” diorama hall, and penguins. Sadly, the museum failed to live up to its potential for greatness. There wasn’t as much to see as I’d hoped, and it was very biology- focused. Is the hype justified? I’m not so sure.
Rating: Fish (3/5)