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Bay Area museum prepares to reopen at new, bigger site

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SAN FRANCISCO » The Exploratorium, San Francisco’s interactive science and activities museum, is set to open Wednesday at its new $300 million digs along the bay with more space and new exhibits, including a rain chamber that will allow people to experience past storms.

The new, 330,000-square-foot museum at Pier 15 along the Embarcadero has three times more space than the previous location at the Palace of Fine Arts in the city’s Marina neighborhood, exploratorium officials said.

The new facility includes an all-glass observatory and a gallery with views of the waterfront and city.

"We have exhibits that help you understand the tide and the fog and all these things that are signature elements of the San Francisco landscape. You can learn about them here, and then you can go out and experience them firsthand," said Tom Rockwell, director of exhibits at the museum.

The rain chamber is among 150 new exhibits. Visitors select a past storm, and the exhibit re-creates the frequency, size and velocity of its raindrops.

Another new exhibit explores the different colors of San Francisco Bay.

"The Color of Water" consists of 32 distinct color swatches suspended above the water, allowing visitors to match the day’s water color and investigate what causes it to change from day to day.

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