COLORFEST: The Exploratorium in San Francisco

In just a few days - Sept. 5th to be exact - a special exhibit will end at The Exploratorium in San Francisco's Palace of Fine Arts park. I attended it a couple weeks ago and it confirmed one solid thing for me: I HATE The Exploratorium!

Why? Because it is full of yelling children and slough-like adults who can easily be turned into dimwitted jokesters who turn knobs randomly and don't read signs. That bugs me. It always has there. The atmosphere tries so hard to be a combination of serious and childlike abandon at the same time, but it never works (for me, anyway).

But, the COLORFEST exhibit had several interesting things to offer: 1) the ability to demonstrate how our eyes see color - or lack of it - and our brains receive and translate the information of it, and 2) How the Exploratorium managed - yet again - to spend a heck of a lot of money promoting an exhibit that stops short of being anything but trivial. They used repeated concepts in several different exhibit samples to try and make it seem like every exhibit piece provided something unique. But it did not.

Over and over again I walked from scientific piece to art piece to another artsy piece only to be disappointed that everything began feeling the same. And if some of the exhibits weren't really about color, so what? You could just try and convince yourself that there MUST be a good reason that they had it. And, I'd paid more than $20 for this privilege. Lucky me.

One of the exhibits involved two young guys in white lab coats trying to look very serious and knowledgeable as they conducted for the small crowd a simple demonstration:

It reminded me of some comedy skit with no joke at the end!

Then there was the 'of course we have 'artsy' films to show you' moment:

The curator of this 'exhibit' really missed a HUGE opportunity with this concept: the ability to share the latest psychological findings for how our brains interpret color at all. It was completely absent (that I could see). Minor hints were there...traces of some chance speck of thought about it- but really, really simple repeated concepts just were utilized to fill the enormous area they have there. What a waste. In one section of the building they should've just invited a bunch of color consultants to give talks in their field and tell bad client stories! The other half could've been filled with fine artists talking about their own processes of achieving successful or failed projects. Now THAT would've been a GREAT EXHIBIT!

The Exploratorium needs visitors, or it will die a slow death. For myself - and I am a BIG museum goer - I've pulled my plug on ever returning to the place. I'd rather take a clear glass, fill it with fresh H2o, tear open a packet of my favorite cold tea, place the bag into the water, then watch it slowly change to the golden color that the crushed leaves will naturally produce. Magic. And right at home. Save the $20.

All-in-all: you can learn more from watching a great episode on tv that involves home improvement. You can snicker at the point where the bad color choices are made, drink a nice merlot, and be glad that you've got someone else to do the paint project rather than you!