Palace of Fine Arts Readies to Re-Open its Doors as Innovation Hub for Young and Old to Imagine the Possibilities of “Then, Now and Tomorrow”

Innovation Hangar bringing together visionaries, hands-on educational activities and amazing exhibitions from major institutions such as Bay Area Discovery Museum, Kaboom, Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, Maker Media and Wearable World, among others.

On February 21st as part of a weekend celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE), the iconic Palace – the only structure remaining from the 1915 World’s Fair – will officially re-open its doors to the public as Innovation Hangar.

iHangar, located in the 120,000 sq. Exposition Hall of the Palace, celebrates the innovative spirit that defines the Bay area and was a centerpiece of the World’s Fair.  The unique social innovation space is designed to be a place where thinkers, doers and critics can come together under one roof to facilitate connections, ideas and investments in a way that simply cannot happen in the virtual world.

“We are thrilled to host iHangar and its many partners,” said Phil Ginsburg, General Manger of the Recreation and Parks Department.  “We wanted to activate the Palace and reconnect it to the hundredth anniversary of the World’s Fair. iHangar does just that through innovative and visionary exhibits.”

When the doors officially open this weekend to iHangar visitors can expect to find the innovative spirit of “Then, Now and Tomorrow” well under way.  New inventions and prototypes will fill Hangar Bays, rotating exhibits will animate the iconic Palace of Fine Arts space, and students will try walking around in the shoes of innovators.

iHangar provides work and lab spaces designed to facilitate interaction with innovators, entrepreneurs, students and the public. This gives them the chance to test ideas and advance their work in a collaborative setting. For visitors and students, iHangar acts as a bridge to the world of global innovation and is one of the few places where they can engage in the innovator’s work process, through public visits and educational programming.

iHangar will offer an engaging project-based curriculum for K-12 students that focuses on social innovation, offering teachers the tools they need to bring the courses to their classrooms, and help coordinate a field trip to iHangar for a final project and presentation. Teachers can choose from multiple learning tracks; each project is accompanied by a grade-appropriate, university-developed curriculum.

“iHangar is designed to be an epicenter of learning and exploration – a space bursting with inquisitive looks, rolled-up sleeves and ah-hah moments,” said Dan Shine, curator for Innovation Hangar.  “We are thrilled to be a part of this iconic treasure and continue its legacy and innovative spirit that defines the San Francisco area.”

During the opening event at PPIE100 Community Day on February 21st iHangar will showcase new inventions and prototypes, hands-on educational activities and amazing exhibitions from major institutions such as Bay Area Discovery Museum, Kaboom, Smithsonian’s Lemelson Center, Maker Media, Tech Museum, ARUP, Palace Escape and Wearable World, among others.

Bay Area Discovery Museum will manage an Innovation Playground for young people that brings together educators and hands-on learning resources from Spark!Lab Smithsonian and kids playground equipment from Kaboom, to inspire the next generation to create and build through imagination.  Spark!Lab Smithsonian, a hands-on invention experience developed by the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, encourages children between the ages of six and 12 to create, collaborate, explore, test, experiment and invent.

“At the Lemelson Center we have always believed that everyone has the inventive spark – it’s just a matter of igniting and keeping it alive,” said Art Molella, director of the Lemelson Center. “Spark!Lab equips the next generation with the knowledge, skills and tools to positively impact the world. Bringing this vibrant experience to San Francisco and taking up residence beside the other wonderful innovative experiences at the Palace of Fine Arts is a significant step in furthering our mission.”

Maker Media, which serves a growing community of makers through technology, will showcase Make Lab at iHangar with inventions, hands-on robots and circuit patterns.  Whether children or adults, the resourceful and curious can create and develop projects that demonstrate how they can interact with the world around them.  Maker Media will have experts on hand, including teams demonstrating HP® Sprout, with fully functional creative workstations that democratizes creativity with an intuitive, natural, sensory and immersive experience through instant 3D imagery and design.

Wearable World, another iHangar partner, will showcase the latest in virtual reality, smart glass, and display the future of wearable technology for kids and adults.  ARUP, which explores the future of the built environment to help shape a better world, will lead interactive discussions and learning activities to examine problems around the world and the innovations that are helping solve them.  Visitors will also get to experience a fun, exciting adventure called Palace Games, that will take participants on an imaginative time machine ride back to 1915 during the World’s Fair to learn all about the Fair in the context of solving a mystery through social engagement and creative thinking.

Also featured in iHangar is a 10,000 sq. ft. exhibition by the California Historical Society, City Rising: San Francisco and the 1915 World’s Fair that shares the rich and remarkable history of the PPIE.  Additionally, there will be a portfolio of two- and three-dimensional art with installations including pieces from Burning Man, Coachella and National Geographic.  A section of San Francisco’s Exposition Organ will also be on display.

PPIE100 Community Day is the first opportunity that the general public will have to see the re-opened Palace of Fine Arts.  The free event begins at 12:00 Noon on February 21st and boasts a celebration of music, arts, history and innovation ‑ all of the things that made the 1915 World’s Fair such a special moment for San Francisco and the World a century ago.  The San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department (RPD), which manages the Palace of Fine Arts, is hosting the event, bringing together more than 40 community partners to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the 19015 World’s Fair.

For more information about PPIE100 Community Day and the opening of iHangar visit or Learn more about San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department at