San Francisco’s beloved Exploratorium opened with a big splashy party that befitting its swell new digs on Pier 15. Guests were as giddy as schoolchildren on a field trip as they navigated the expanse filled to the open rafters with scientific schemes, stories, and stuff, searching for new discoveries and old favorite exhibits. Fortunately the Exploratorium is the original “do-seum,” so nothing was off-limits; guests were encouraged to play as well as party, making the enormous concave mirror nearly as popular as the well-stocked bars with substantially the same vertiginous effect. Nestled in between the science, a series of sitting rooms conceived by 25 interior designers created a series of Supper Clubs for less formal dining, while the breathtaking views of the Observatory upstairs were set for a more traditional seated dinner with a marvelously molecular menu. Guests had arrived to the slightly surreal sight of original art cars snaking along the outside of the pier; although most guests were pedaled down to dinner on pedicabs, a fortunate few were spirited to the dinner on the snaking Serpent Twins or the slower but superlative flame-shooting giant snail car, the Golden Mean. The surprise continued inside, as guests oohed and aahed at the dazzling bay views and the masterful and energy efficient $200 million renovation which transformed a derelict pier into this peerless place to study plankton, polymers, purpose, and of course, people. After the dinner, another wave of guests arrived for the after party of dessert, dancing, and more discovery. A veritable who’s who of corporate, scientific, philanthropic, and artistic movers and booty-shakers made the guest list a revelatory roster, and the juxtapositions even more juicy. A smattering of swells brought their swell kids, reinforcing the family-friendly emphasis that has always characterized this locus of learning. Guests flitted from couch to bar, display to dinner, music to meteorite, marveling at the six galleries and all that they continued to reveal. Many commented on how it was impossible to see and do everything, which brilliantly reinforced the point of the place. The glee was palpable, one of the few things a scientific instrument wasn’t set up to measure. Given the enthusiasm for its new digs, that might just be an exhibit worthy of their exploration. We know they finally have the fabulous space for it.
Playing with their food: Event chair Fannie Allen and her husband, Board Chair George Cogan and their children Ashley, Zach, and Jonathan, Gala Chairs Sandy and Paul Otellini with Marissa and Patrick Otellini, Honorary chairs Charlotte and George Schultz, delightful Executive Director Dennis Bartels with Susie Bartels, SFMOMA’s Neal Benezra and Maria Makela, The Crucible’s Steve Young and Gabrielle Kunszel, Michelle Yee and Reid Hoffmann, Sakurako and Bill Fisher, Ann and John Doerr, Susan and Riley Bechtel, Ravin and Alka Agrawal, Carol Bartz and Bill Marr, Anisya and Lynn Fritz, Randi and Bob Fisher with daughter Lexie, Laura and John Fisher, Alex Fisher and Keeley Sulprizio, Harvey and Gail Glasser, Burt and Deedee McMurtry, Dan Yue, Esther and Stanley Wojcicki, John and Ali Walecka, Craig Silverstein, Merrill and Van Kasper, April and Paul Buchheit, Sarah Cogan, Gregory and Julie Flynn, Elizabeth and Richard Fullerton, Cameron Phleger, Ellie and Skip Smith, Stephanie and Bill Mellin, Bill Bowes, Doris Fisher, Barbro and Barney Osher, Sheila Duignan, Nancy and Joachim Bechtle, Michelle Curtis Harris, Nion McEvoy and Leslie Berriman, Birgit and Derek Bruhn, Gretchen de Baubigny with Helene and John Golob, Ken Fulk and Kurt Wootton, Stanlee Gatti, Laura and Jeff Huber, Zem and James Joaquin, Cathie and Pitch Johnson, Anne Kaiser and Bob Taylor, Tom Kelley, Pam and Dick Kramlich, Daniel Lurie and Becca Prowda, Linda and Steve Millard, Sharon and Michael Rich, Annie and Montgomery Woods, Anita and Ron Wornick, Dianne and Tad Taube, Tom Steyer and Kat Steinmetz, Marcia Smolens, Sebu and Tamar Simonian, Helen and Chuck Schwab, Katie and Matt Paige, Ann and Bob Zerbst, a covey of creative types including Jon LaGrace, Lady Bee, Affinity and Tom Mingle, Ben Davis, Dorka Keehn, and Serpent Twins mastermind Jon Sarriugarte, many of the talented interior designers who created the Supper Club salons, including event designer Eugene Anthony, Mark Daniel, Holly Kopman, Laura Hunt, Valerie Wills Katie Anderson, Cece Kaufman, Sherry Hope-Kennedy, Paul O’ Rourke, Lizette Marie, Evleen Salem, Rise Krag, Eric BrandPaige Loczi, Elena Calabrese, Iman Michelle Gamble, Caroline Stern, Sue Subbotin Riviello, and many, many more who were becoming experts at exploration.
To see images from this event or to purchase prints: The Exploratorium Opening Gala