The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a 66-year lease for the Exploratorium at its planned new site on the waterfront.

The popular interactive science museum, which is celebrating its 40th anniversary this week, plans to move from the Palace of Fine Arts to Piers 15 and 17 on the Embarcadero.
The larger new space will be more centrally located in the city and easier to access by public transit.

“This location will enable us to reach more people in San Francisco and the Bay Area than we’re currently reaching,” said museum spokeswoman Leslie Patterson.

Patterson said museum officials hope to boost the number of visitors each year from 500,000 to 800,000 at the new location. The larger space will also allow the Exploratorium to double its teaching staff, she said.

The new Exploratorium will be “the premiere education institution on the waterfront, and center stage,” Patterson said.

The project still requires approval from the Bay Conservation and Development Commission and from the State Lands Commission.

Officials hope to begin construction next spring and open in 2012.

The project’s cost has been estimated at $175 million.

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