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Exploratorium Exhibits Bring Fun & Learning to Mission Bay

Because the hospital can be a scary place for kids, we've designed each room at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital at Mission Bay with them in mind, adding fun details throughout the building.

A big part of our new hospital's kid-centric vibe comes from 16 custom-designed Exploratorium exhibits. From the inventive "dot creatures" on each level of our parking structure to the amazing time-lapse machine on the sixth floor, these exhibits should add a bit of adventure and learning to your hospital stay.

Fun on Wheels

Want the fun to come to you? The Exploratorium's Global Studios department has designed five mobile activities for patients to explore in their own hospital rooms. These include:

  • Animation Station: A camera and monitor setup that comes with a variety of materials, such as wooden sticks, string or googly eyes, so kids can make their own stop-motion animations. There's even an option to upload your video to a hospital YouTube channel so you can share it with friends, family and other kids.
  • Shadow Play: This exhibit lets you build a sculpture with everyday objects and see it projected on a screen via colored lights. "We hope that patients can turn out their lights and transform their hospital room into a fun, darkened space, where they can play with beautiful colored lights and make amazing shadows," says Danielle Wong, the Exploratorium's project lead for the exhibits.
  • Take a Closer Look: A powerful microscope helps you see everyday objects in a new light. The exhibit even includes two screens so siblings or friends can play games and guess what they're seeing. An added plus: All of the mobile carts are easy to sterilize and will double as classroom aids for our teachers.

Learning Everywhere

Up for exploring the hospital halls? There's lots to play with and observe. You'll find everything from a wall of rotating panels in the main lobby that transform patient artwork into beautiful "stained glass" to a video camera that displays heat radiating from nearby objects.

Other exhibits include:

  • Scrolling Through Time: This time-lapse machine looks over the water to the East Bay. By the time the hospital opened, the camera had recorded four months of footage, letting you observe changing tides and weather patterns, as well as arriving and departing ships and cranes moving over time. For children "in the hospital, time is a special topic and being able to connect to the outside world is also important," Wong says.
  • Animal Accessories: These "creature murals" add a dose of fun to our hallways. Be sure to snap a photo of yourself with a pair of wings, antlers or beautiful feathers.
  • Turbulent Orb: Spin this sphere filled with pearly liquid to create lovely, undulating patterns.
  • Sand Ripples: This chamber of sand and water produces amazing ripple shapes when shaken.