The computer of choice at the hands-on, participatory science museum, the Exploratorium, is the Macintosh.
Exploratorium is housed within the walls of San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts. A collage of over 650 science, art, and human perception exhibits, the museum’s mission is “to create a culture of learning through innovative environments, programs, and tools that help people to nurture their curiosity about the world around them.” The Exploratorium was founded in 1969 by noted physicist and educator Dr. Frank Oppenheimer, who was director until his death in 1985.
The museum uses 200 Apple systems, ranging from Power Mac G4s to iBooks, to tackle tasks from Webcasts to exhibit display. According to an
Apple SciTech story, some of the original Macintosh computers from the mid-80s are still on the museum floor, working as well today as they did 15 years ago.
“The stability and intuitiveness of the Mac makes it ideal for use in an environment where visitors are encouraged to interact with exhibits all day long — and the more they interact, the better,” said Ron Hipschman, senior media specialist and Webmaster for the Exploratorium.
He touts the benefits of the Mac as encouraging exploration with an intuitive, non-threatening interface. Hipschman — who was responsible for first introducing the Mac to the museum — adds that the strong design capabilities of the Mac allows the Exploratorium to create its superb exhibit graphics and an award-winning Web site. (He often hosts local San Francisco Mac Users Group meetings at the museum.
The Mac is now at the heart of virtually all the museum’s operations, according to the Apple SciTech article. The graphics department uses Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop on the Mac to create exhibit graphics. The media department takes advantage of the Mac to edit sound and video for Webcasts and exhibits. A Mac-based FileMaker Pro database helps exhibit services track the components of every exhibit.