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Projects : Golden Gate Bridge Exhibit

Golden Gate Bridge Outdoor Exhibition


The Ways the Bridge Vibrates

The Bridge has many modes of vibration, or ways in which it can move in response to wind or earthquakes. This mechanical hands-on exhibit lets visitors “excite” (shake) the model in varying ways to see how it responds. The main span between the towers can sway sideways, back and forth like a swing, or it can take on a snake-like pattern of vertical or horizontal displacement depending on the rate at which it is moved. In the try-out of the prototype at the Bridge, it also served the useful purpose of providing visitors with photo opportunities and activities when the Gate was socked in with thick fog.

STATUS: This exhibit is currently on display near the flagpole area.

[read more about this exhibit]

A seminar at the lab of Professor Sarah Billington of Stanford University, with Exploratorium designers.
A prototype was used to help determine if the various movements of the bridge model were easy to see by the visitor.
Dave Fleming of The Exploratorium uses poles to help show the movement of the Bridge to onlookers.
Even early on in the development process, the model was very popular with visitors at the Bridge.
The final design of the modal Bridge model incorporates Art Deco elements and International Orange to blend in with the surrounding area.
Placement of the model is in parallel with the actual Golden Gate Bridge.
In this video clip, Dave Fleming (The Exploratorium) talks about the Modal Model, and the various types of movement.

Video: AVI (104 MB)

Total Time: 2:08

Funding for the project has been provided by the Division of Research on Learning in Formal and Informal Settings, National Science Foundation. Dr. Al DeSena is the NSF project officer for this award. Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

All images are the property of the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District and cannot be re-used without its permission. Contact Mary Currie, Public Affairs Director,

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Consortium of Universities for Research in Earthquake Engineering
last updated 05.27.14