350 years in the making


The Exploratory story begins with the dream of one man more than 350 years ago.

In 1627 the scientist and philosopher Francis Bacon described an imaginary science centre designed for both amusement and hand-on investigation of scientific phenomena in his unfinished book The New Atlantis.

This dream did not become reality until 1969 when the Exploratorium was founded in San Francisco by the US scientist Frank Oppenheimer.

It was this place that inspired Professor Richard Gregory, CBE, of the University of Bristol, to start up the Exploratory in 1983 - the first hands-on science centre in the UK.

By the time The Exploratory closed finally on September 1st 1999 it had attracted over two million visitors.

The Development years

The first temporary Exploratory exhibition opened in 1984.

First home - Victoria Rooms

In 1987 it found its first home at the Victoria Rooms in Bristol.

Temple Meads

September 1989 - Old Station, Temple Meads in Bristol - over 200,000 visitors a year.

Lottery funding and Explore at-Bristol
The story of the closure.

origin   1991
1984   1994
1985   1995
1986   1996
1987   1997
1988   1998
1989   1999
1990   2000
Click a year
  2000 The Exploratory
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