bamboo cane

Frank Oppenheimer

This is one of the many canes owned and used by Dr. Frank Oppenheimer, physicist, educator, and founding director of San Francisco’s Exploratorium. In the museum’s early days, Frank stalked the building, endlessly fidgeting with his cane, waving it around as a pointer, tapping people on the legs to get their attention, smacking it on the floor to punctuate important points, and hanging it on exhibits or furniture when it was in the way. Because he was always leaving his canes in odd places, he had extras all around the museum. This cane was left on the edge of a staff member’s desk just before Frank’s death in 1985. Today, Frank’s canes serve as a reminder of the remarkable man and his legacy. One is built into an Exploratorium exhibit; another hangs above the museum’s machine shop. When this cane returns to the Exploratorium, it will find a unique home of its own.

Bamboo cane. Image courtesy of the Exploratorium.