Artist Theo Jansen with a model of one of his works // © 2016 The Exploratorium
Feature image (above): Jansen’s Apodiacula “strolls” along the beach. // © 2016 The Exploratorium
San Francisco’s beloved Exploratorium has inspired guests with hands-on educational exhibits for nearly 50 years. This summer, the venue will host one of its most exciting temporary exhibitions yet: Strandbeest, a collection of wind-powered creatures built by Dutch artist Theo Jansen. The kinetic sculptures — so captivating that Jansen’s 2013 YouTube video has garnered nearly 1.5 million views — are composed only of PVC pipe and zip ties and “walk” on their own. A collection of the sculptures will be at the Exploratorium from May 27 through Sept. 5, 2016, alongside artist sketches, immersive video and photographs taken by Lena Herzog.
This exhibition marks the first large-scale presentation of Jansen’s Strandbeests in the Americas, and fans are expected to flock to the museum for a firsthand look. Jansen initially began tinkering with this idea about 20 years ago. Inspired by the threat of rising sea levels, he designed the creatures with a specific function: to pile sand back up on the dunes. Over the years, his creations have evolved in detail and size — one of those on display at the Exploratorium is the 42-foot-long pneumatically powered Animaris Suspendisse.
“Jansen exemplifies the Exploratorium ethos of a life inspired by imagination, curiosity and creativity,” said Marina McDougall, director of the Center for Art & Inquiry. “At the Exploratorium, we value art as a process of inquiry, a way of knowing. We believe that art is for everybody, and that when integrated with other disciplinary approaches deepens learning and discovery. As an artist and engineer with a background in physics, Jansen embodies this ideal.”
The Exploratorium welcomes guests every day of the week in June, July and August, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (and until 10 p.m. on Fridays during these months). Throughout the rest of the year, the venue is open Tuesday through Sunday. Entry prices are $29.95 for adults, $24.95 for seniors and teens and $19.95 for children ages 4 and up. Children 3 and under are free.