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The Exploratorium Hosts First “Free” Day in 3 Years

On Mother’s Day it’s a “Pay What You Wish” community day with tons of activities including mariachi bands serenading moms
By - posted 5/8/2022 No Comment

The Exploratorium used to have several “pay what you wish” days each year, but they started to become rare even before the pandemic.

This Sunday, the “Community Day” tradition returns for the first time since May 2019 in honor of Mother’s Day/Día de las Madres. Lots of free bilingual activities will tempt you to spend your full day at the museum including folklórico dances and a mariachi concert serenading mothers.

Enjoy Mexican hot chocolate tastings, see how corn tortillas are made, or go hands-on and learn how to make colorful paper flowers for a free Mother’s Day gift. Arrive early as entry is subject to capacity.

The Exploratorium’s “Pay What You Wish” Community Day
Sunday, May 8, 2022, 10 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Pier 15, Embarcadero at Green St., S.F.,
Free / Pay what you wish.

Please note that admission is “pay what you wish” is for everyone, not just for mothers.

See full details at exploratorium.edu

Happy Mother’s Day! All mothers, and especially Latina moms, and their families are invited to pay whatever they want for a day of fun at the Exploratorium. To honor this special day, we offer moms bilingual programming. Enjoy folk dances and a fabulous mariachi concert with serenades for moms, and make paper flowers to give them.

Pay what you can’ within your means on Community Days, when museum admission is subject to capacity and is on a first-come, first-served basis. The number of tickets available depends on the accommodation capacity of our facilities, so admission is not guaranteed. Daytime hours for members and donors (Sundays, 10:00 a.m. to noon) will not be available.

2022 Mother’s Day Free Activities

Cacao: From Bean to Bar
11:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m.
Fisher Bay Observatory Terrace

What are the scientific and cultural contexts of chocolate? What’s the story behind this tempting treat? Join Karla McNeil-Rueda of Cru Chocolate and Madeline Chang of Fair Trade USA as they share the “bean-to-bar” process that turns cacao beans into chocolate bars. Hear about the women-led teams of farmers they work with, and enjoy a taste of atole champurrado, a traditional Mexican hot chocolate and corn drink. Tastings are limited and first come, first served.

10,000 Years of Science in a Corn Tortilla
Fisher Bay Observatory Terrace

Learn about the cultural context and the science of corn—and see for yourself how a corn tortilla is made from scratch! Domesticated in Mesoamerica nearly 10,000 years ago, corn is a staple ingredient in many culturally important foods. Yucatec Maya elder María Ávila Vera and her daughter-in-law Irma Magaña Canul will share traditional cooking methods that have been passed down and refined through generations. They will be joined by Exploratorium Senior Scientist Dr. Isabel Hawkins, who will highlight the nutritional, ecological, and scientific significance of corn.

Making Paper Flowers
Noon, 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., and 3:00 p.m.
Fisher Bay Observatory

Traditionally used as party decorations, Mexican paper flowers are simple to create and charming to receive. All materials are provided. Children welcome! Limited capacity; first come, first served. Free tickets for flores de papel are available in the Observatory.


México Lindo y Querido w/ Cuicacalli Ballet Folklórico and Mariachi La Misión 
2:00 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3

Cuicacalli Dance Company’s México Lindo y Querido is a Ballet Folklórico performance that takes audiences on a journey through diverse regions of Mexico through music and dance. Indigenous, European, and African styles of music and dance are fused to create what we know as folklore mexicano (Mexican folkloric dance). México Lindo y Querido will fill you with pride, love, and joy—elements that the wonderful culture of Mexico offers to the world! Featuring live music from Mariachi La Misión.

  • Cuicacalli (House of Culture) is a year-round youth dance program based at Brava Theater in the heart of San Francisco’s Mission District. ​​
  • Mariachi La Misión connects the music, history, and culture of Mexico through the art form that brings all generations together.

Ballet Folklórico Workshop
3:00 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3

Learn about Cuicacalli Ballet Folklórico with Cuicacalli Dance Company Director Jesús “Jacoh” Cortés. Put on your dancing shoes as he invites you to try out some steps for yourself!

Jesús Cortésis a renowned international performer. In 2008, he founded Cuicacalli (House of Culture), an international, cross-cultural, dance-arts educational institution based at Brava Theater in San Francisco’s Mission District. Cuicacalli offers Indigenous, ballet folklórico, and contemporary dance programs.

Flower Dissections
With the Explainers 
Moore Gallery 4, Explainer Station

From petals to pistils, explore the anatomy of flowers in this demo from our Explainers. Along the way, learn about pollination and how plants reproduce.