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What Is the Bay Area Discovery Museum?

The Bay Area Discovery Museum is a wonderland for young minds, nestled at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge. It's an interactive playground where children explore creativity, science, and imagination through hands-on exhibits and educational programs. It's a place where learning and play go hand in hand. Ready to unlock the secrets of this magical museum with your little ones?
Angie Pollock
Angie Pollock

An American museum located in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, the Bay Area Discovery Museum was created by four parents with a focus on early childhood learning, primarily 6 months through 8 years of age. Situated near the Golden Gate Bridge, the museum opened its pilot site in Corte Madera in 1987 and later moved to Fort Baker in 1991. The facility features unique indoor and outdoor experiences that emphasize learning in a child-oriented environment. In addition, it also hosts permanent exhibitions as well as a variety of themed special showings throughout the year. It has also been awarded a number of esteemed awards both locally and nationally.

Historic Fort Baker features various unused Army structures which were re-designed to accommodate the Bay Area Discovery Museum. Since its inception at the fort in 1991, the museum has expanded to feature more exhibitions and the one-of-a-kind outdoor Lookout Cove. Covering 2.5 acres (one hectare), Lookout Cove is an interactive educational site featuring an authentic fishing boat for exploring, a hiking trail with views of San Francisco Bay and the Golden Gate Bridge, and a shipwreck for discovering artifacts. Also featured outdoors is Imagination Playground designed by architect David Rockwell that allows children to explore and build with over-sized building toys.

The Bay Area Discovery Museum is close to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
The Bay Area Discovery Museum is close to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Indoors, the Bay Area Discovery Museum features a variety of interactive areas including Bay Hall, Discovery Hall, and the Art Studios. Each area houses different exhibits and sections for exploration. At Bay Hall, children can discover the Fisherman’s Wharf or enjoy the vintage train set at the Trains exhibit. The adventures available at Discovery Hall change throughout the year, while the Art Studios offer opportunities for children to express their creative side through visual arts.

The Bay Area Discovery Museum is located in the San Francisco Bay area.
The Bay Area Discovery Museum is located in the San Francisco Bay area.

For the youngest children, the Tot Spot provides both indoor and outdoor imaginative play. Inside are the Wetlands and Woodlands displays, which help young children learn coordination through rolling, jumping, and climbing. Outside, toddlers can explore The Stream and The Meadow, which feature a stream bed and grassy area.

Both permanent and special exhibitions are featured at Bay Area Discovery Museum. The special exhibitions are generally themed-oriented focusing on areas such as space and animal habitats. Part of the permanent offerings include Discovery Theatre, a 180-seat theatre for performing arts. Along with the permanent and special exhibitions, the museum hosts special events throughout the year that focus on celebrating special holidays or offering children a glimpse into world cultures with events such as the Chinese New Year Celebration.

The Bay Area Discovery Museum has been awarded many accolades from both private and public sectors. In 2005, the California Preservation Foundation recognized the museum with the Preservation Design Award, and, in 1992, the museum received the National Historic Preservation Award. Since its inception, the museum has also been recognized as a Top 20 Children’s Museum, Best Children’s Attraction, and Best Family Outing in the United States. From 2005 through 2011, Bay Area Parent magazine awarded Bay Area Discovery Museum with the silver medal for Best Museum and the bronze medal for Best Kid’s Birthday.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Bay Area Discovery Museum and who is it designed for?

The Bay Area Discovery Museum (BADM) is a unique facility located at the foot of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, California. It's designed primarily for children aged six months to ten years, offering a rich array of interactive exhibits and educational programs that focus on science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM). The museum's mission is to ignite and advance creative thinking for all children, providing a dynamic learning environment that stimulates curiosity and exploration.

What kind of exhibits and activities can be found at the Bay Area Discovery Museum?

At the Bay Area Discovery Museum, visitors can engage with a variety of hands-on exhibits and activities. These include the Lookout Cove, a 2.5-acre outdoor exploration area, the Fab Lab with its cutting-edge digital fabrication technology, and the Tot Spot, tailored for toddlers. The museum also offers art studios, science workshops, and themed events that encourage kids to learn through play and discovery, fostering their problem-solving skills and creativity.

How does the Bay Area Discovery Museum support educational development in children?

The Bay Area Discovery Museum supports educational development by providing an environment that encourages active engagement and learning through play. According to research on early learning, play-based education enhances cognitive abilities, language skills, and social competence. BADM's STEAM-focused exhibits and programs are designed to align with these findings, helping children develop critical thinking, creativity, and collaboration skills that are essential for their future academic and personal success.

Can the Bay Area Discovery Museum be visited year-round and what are its hours?

Yes, the Bay Area Discovery Museum is open year-round, offering families the opportunity to visit and explore its exhibits across different seasons. The museum typically operates Tuesday through Sunday, with hours varying depending on the day and season. It's advisable to check the museum's official website or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information on opening hours and any special holiday schedules.

Are there any special programs or events at the Bay Area Discovery Museum?

The Bay Area Discovery Museum hosts a variety of special programs and events throughout the year. These may include seasonal festivals, cultural celebrations, and educational workshops that cater to different age groups and interests. The museum also offers school field trips, birthday party packages, and summer camps, providing enriching experiences that extend beyond the regular exhibit offerings. For a current list of events and programs, visitors should refer to the museum's official website or event calendar.

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    • The Bay Area Discovery Museum is close to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
      By: Oleksandr Dibrova
      The Bay Area Discovery Museum is close to the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
    • The Bay Area Discovery Museum is located in the San Francisco Bay area.
      By: Can Balcioglu
      The Bay Area Discovery Museum is located in the San Francisco Bay area.