It's down! It took 9 minutes and 47 seconds for the air-supported shell of the EXLPORADOME to deflate.

View photos from the deflation ceremony here.


EXPLORADOME Saint Louis Science Center
EXPLORADOME Saint louis Science Center interior

After opening the Main Building at 5050 Oakland Ave., it became clear that the Science Center could benefit from additional exhibition and school programming space. However, coming on the heels of what had up to then been the largest fundraising campaign for a St. Louis cultural institution, it was felt that a permanent facility of the square footage needed would be too soon and too costly.

Science Center leadership decided to erect a temporary structure adjacent to the main building as a low-cost means of verifying the need and application of additional space. What started as an “experiment” ended up lasting twice as long as intended.


The EXPLORADOME was erected in the location of the former Merchant’s Exchange building. The basement, staircase and elevator were retained from the structure. A 120-by-240 foot rectangular concrete pad was then poured around and south of the basement, creating the base for the EXPLORADOME. A giant vinyl shell was then attached to the outer edges of the base and air blower units inflated the shell to an arched shape, rising up to 40 feet off the ground, with a perimeter base plate and wrapping steel cables literally holding the air-supported dome down.

Once inflated, internal classrooms and restrooms were added to the ground floor—leaving space for a 12,000 square foot exhibition hall. In a little over five months, the EXPLORADOME was operational—providing the Science Center with exhibition, program and office space for an extremely inexpensive building cost.


The purpose of the EXPLORADOME was to verify the need and application of additional space for special exhibitions and school programming. Since the EXPLORADOME was so heavily utilized, playing host to 33 special exhibitions attracting more than 2.4 million paying visitors, the Science Center took actions to create a permanent exhibition space. In 2011, the EXPLORADOME was replaced with Boeing Hall, a state-of-the-art special exhibition and event facility.

Scheduled for removal on Monday, June 24, 2013, the EXPLORADOME was deflated and will be cleared away to allow for the largest exhibit expansion in the history of the Saint Louis Science Center. The site will be transformed into an exhibit area, offering both indoor and outdoor experiences.

Our Partners in the EXPLORADOME Demolition

HOK, a prestigious St. Louis-based architectural firm is working on the master planning of the Saint Louis Science Center, including the planning and design of the former EXPLORADOME site.

     McGrath & Associates is working as the general contractor in charge of deflation and removal the EXPLORADOME.