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Exploratorium announces The Best Things in Museums Are the Windows

Exploratorium presents The Best Things in Museums Are the Windows. A participatory project co-organized by Harrell Fletcher and the Exploratorium on July 18–21, 2013.

Photo: Jordan Stein. © Exploratorium, all rights reserved.
Photo: Jordan Stein. © Exploratorium, all rights reserved.

The Best Things in Museums Are the Windows, is a four-day trek that follows a line of sight from the Exploratorium’s new home at Pier 15 on San Francisco’s waterfront across the Bay to the summit of Mt. Diablo, some 40 miles away. A pioneer in the Social Practice movement, Fletcher has created this immersive, participatory project as an Artist-in-Residence at the Exploratorium.

The Windows seeks to create a dynamic framework for discovery by drawing in members of the public as it moves across water, city, suburb, and country, building on the multidimensional perspectives of the participants. The path of The Windows will be seeded with demonstrations, screenings, talks, and workshops designed by Exploratorium staff and a diverse group of community partners. These stops, which are free and open to the public, will be related to the land and sea the group will traverse. A full calendar is available on the homepage for The Windows.

“The title of the piece is a quote from the painter Pierre Bonnard,” says Fletcher. “You go to a museum and look at the paintings—which is great—but then you look out the windows and see how you can apply what you’ve learned in the museum to the world outside. You can see things anew because of that framework that’s been established in your mind.” He adds, “I think, even more so than other museums, the Exploratorium is about the experience you have and how you apply it to your life in the world, your understanding of big and little things out there.”

The Windows reflects Fletcher’s interest in artful investigation, experiential learning, and decentralized authorship. By extending the Exploratorium’s activities and ethos into everyday environments, The Windows works toward the greater integration of a cultural institution within its surrounding community.

“As we’ve learned over the last 40-plus years, the Exploratorium isn’t simply a place, but is instead an approach—a belief that the world is an open classroom to be investigated,” says Jordan Stein, Assistant Curator with the Center for Art & Inquiry at the Exploratorium. “The Windows carries our institutional talent and curiosity across the Bay and up to a point of reflection, literally and metaphorically bridging the gap between here and there.”

A global leader in informal learning, the Exploratorium has built creative exhibits, tools, programs, and experiences that ignite curiosity since 1969. The museum’s groundbreaking Artist-in-Residence program, which has hosted Ruth Asawa, Brian Eno, and Tauba Auerbach, among others, was launched in 1974.

The night before the group’s departure, on the museum’s Bay Observatory Terrace, the Exploratorium’s Cinema Arts program will screen selected experimental, documentary and industrial films which trace the geography of the trek’s path.

About Harrell Fletcher
Harrell Fletcher has worked collaboratively and individually on a variety of socially engaged, interdisciplinary projects since the early 1990s. Fletcher received his BFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and his MFA from California College of the Arts. He studied organic farming at UCSC and went on to work on a variety of small Community-Supported Agriculture farms, which deeply impacted his work as an artist. His work has been shown at SFMoMA, the Berkeley Art Museum, the Seattle Art Museum, Tate Modern London, The Drawing Center, Sculpture Center, and Smack Mellon in New York, among others. A participant in the 2004 Whitney Biennial, Fletcher has work in several museum collections. He is an Associate Professor of Art and Social Practice at Portland State University in Portland, Oregon.

Pier 15
San Francisco, CA 94111