The Tech Museum of Innovation is an aptly-named technological discovery museum in San Jose, the Bay Area’s hotbed of science and technology. Visitors can get their hands dirty – figuratively speaking – in hundreds on exhibits design to spark imagination and understanding about the world and how technology is used in it.
Every visitor’s ticket (called a “Tech Tag”) has a barcode that can be scanned at many of the exhibits to preserve pictures or collections that can be accessed online from home.
The Tech’s bottom and top floors are chock-full of permanent engaging exhibits that feature four broad categories of communication, exploration, life technology, and innovation.
- Electricity is featured in exhibits about engineering a town powered fully by renewable energy (hydro, wind, and solar power) and powering different electrical gadgets (such as a standard and L.E.D. light bulb) with a stationary bicycle.
- The internet takes front seat with exhibits on arm wrestling via the web and designing web pages.
- Earthquakes are explored with seismographs and a shaking platform programmed to replicate historical big quakes from around the world.
- Ocean exploration is made more approachable with remote-controlled submarines and information about deep-sea diving.
- Space travel is made possible with a simulated tourist shuttle under visitor control, and has perhaps the greatest exhibit which replicates “space walks” in a personal “jet pack chair”!
The third floor focuses on computer and medical technology. Favorite exhibits include designing a roller coaster and “riding” it, programming a car to start based on desired situations (such as a child driving), and trying a hand at minimally-invasive heart surgery.
Other museum activities
The museum’s central floor is home to a reasonably-priced cafeteria, a gift shop, and an IMAX theater (every admission ticket is good for one IMAX movie viewing).
The museum also offers an annual challenge, offering anyone in grades 5-12 the opportunity to use technology to solve a problem faced in today’s world.
The Tech also features traveling exhibitions in the hall on the central level, usually requiring an extra fee. Recent exhibits have included Body Worlds 2, Leonardo: 500 Years in the Future, and the official Star Trek Exhibition.
The Tech is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $10 each, though special exhibitions may be extra. Every second Sunday the museum is free.
Travel from around the bay is relatively easy by car. There are numerous parking garages nearby the museum – remember to validate your parking receipt!