I was an explainer once, but now I spend my time at the Exploratorium following them around with a video camera, begging them for footage and ideas, and writing people letters about all the amazing things they do. I feel like I’m starting an explainer fan club. Why all the attention?
Well, while it’s easy to think that the Exploratorium is the center of the universe, it turns out there are tons of little Exploratoriums all over the country, and even the world. Some of them aren’t even very little. Some of them are much bigger than the Exploratorium! Tons of our exhibits have dozens of doppelgangers, out there bringing joy to children the world over.
However, the Exploratorium explainers have a couple real advantages over the floor staff of most of these museums. First of all, they have Anne and Sylvia. No, seriously, Exploratorium explainers spend up to 25% of their time training at the exhibits, learning new concepts, and bonding with each other. Very few companies anywhere invest that much time in making their staff comfortable and expert at what they do. Few companies also give their staff the kind of freedom to mess about that Exploratorium explainers enjoy. The other advantage our Explainers have is that they get to spend years with our exhibits. I can think of tons of things I didn’t learn about my favorite exhibits until the second year I was explaining.
Now think of those explainers out there at our partner museums. They get a new exhibit set and it’s exciting and new and they might not be entirely sure about how to understand the phenomena. They might even be scared about the possibility of breaking an exhibit (most of our traveling sets are much slicker than our originals here in SF). Also, they are our friends and we want to support them, so I’ve been sending them Explainer boxes with props inside, activity binders and sweet encouraging notes. This month I also want to start sending them videos of Explainers showing off exhibit quirks. Once we have a small quirk library I will start pestering them for their own videos, and the Exploratorium explainers can all meet their long lost explainer cousins. Hurray!
This is a long way of saying thanks for all the inspiration and good work, and “please, please, can I have your autograph.”
And, lastly, here for your entertainment pleasure are the prototype quirky videos that the upper ups liked so much they approved 12 more of.