The planned relocation of San Francisco’s Exploratorium to the waterfront moved forward Thursday with approval from the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission.

The commission, which oversees projects within 100 feet of the Bay shoreline, approved by a 17-0 vote the move of the popular interactive science museum to Piers 15 and 17 on the Embarcadero. It is currently located at the Palace of Fine Arts near the Presidio.

The larger new space will be more centrally located in the city and easier to access by public transit.

The board of supervisors approved a 66-year lease for the new site in November.

The project still needs to receive building permits from San Francisco’s planning department and department of building inspection.

“That’s a multi-month process,” said Exploratorium spokeswoman Leslie Patterson. Following that, the project would go out to bid for construction contracts.

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

“But because we haven’t gone out to bid yet, that is not a final figure,” Patterson said.

Exploratorium officials hope to begin construction, which is estimated to take about 26 months, later this year, Patterson said.

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