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The Tech
The Tech Museum of Innovation in Downtown San Jose (cropped).jpg
The Tech, viewed from nearby Plaza de César Chávez in Downtown San Jose
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Former name The Tech Museum of Innovation
Established October 31, 1998; 23 years ago (1998-10-31)
Location 201 South Market Street
San Jose, California, US
Type Science
Visitors 400,000 annually
Architect Ricardo Legorreta
Association of Science-Technology Centers

The Tech Interactive (formerly The Tech Museum of Innovation), commonly known as The Tech is a science and technology center in San Jose, California, in Silicon Valley. It is located adjacent to the Plaza de César Chávez in Downtown San Jose.


The Tech Interactive's architecture is the work of Mexican architect Ricardo Legorreta. The front wall is inscribed with quotations from iconic Silicon Valley entrepreneurs Bill Hewlett, David Packard, Bob Noyce, and Gordon Moore.

The building has a distinctive mango and azure color, and has three floors. The ground floor includes The Tech Store, The Tech Cafe, the IMAX Dome Theater, and a recreational area that is reserved for special events. Four major theme galleries fill the Upper Level and Lower Level: Communication, Exploration, Innovation, and Life Tech. These galleries are constantly being revamped and changed to fit the theme, movies, and exhibits. On occasion, nearby Parkside Hall is rented from the City of San Jose, to provide extra space for special temporary exhibits.

On the Lower Level there is also a complex multi-story sculpture titled Origin, inside a 45-foot-tall (14 m) cylindrical tower. The artwork portrays relationships among art, technology, and natural resources of the earth. Near the entrance to the building, there is Science on a Roll, a popular rolling ball sculpture by George Rhoads.

The Tech is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit.


The Tech Museum of Innovation 01718
The Tech during the Magnificent Desolation: Walking on the Moon exhibit, 2010

Planning began in 1978 by members of the Junior League of Palo Alto, with later assistance by the San Jose Junior League. The City of San Jose promised funding for a Technology Center of Silicon Valley in the 1980s, but progress was slow.

The first 20,000-square-foot (1,900 m2) temporary exhibit opened in 1990; The Garage, named in homage to the HP Garage, was housed in San Jose's former convention center. On October 31, 1998, a brand-new 132,000-square-foot (12,300 m2) facility was inaugurated, named The Tech Museum of Innovation. In May 2019, the organization was rebranded as The Tech Interactive, and announced a new partnership with Discovery Education.

The Tech Interactive reflects its social context, capturing Silicon Valley's celebration of technology with a fascination with what the institution's literature refers to as the "gizmos and gadgets" produced by Valley companies. Early reviews, however, criticized The Tech for failing to provide a coherent direction or message.

In 2018, an expansion of Tech Interactive by 63,000 square feet (5,900 m2) was proposed, as part of a major high-rise office development in Museum Place.


The Tech Museum of Innovation 2 2016-05-14
The Tech's Google Earth exhibit
The Tech Museum of Innovation 3 2016-05-14
An atrium at The Tech

The Tech Interactive has many exhibits dealing with energy efficiency, customization, exploration and genetics.

The Tech also has joint partnerships with local attractions, ranging from jazz festivals to the Global Festival of Art.

The IMAX Dome Theater, opened in 1998 and upgraded since then, shows mainstream movies as well as educational films. It is Northern California's only domed IMAX Theater, and can seat up to 280 people.

Social robots

The Tech has an interactive exhibit where people can design and build robots.

The Tech Studio

The Tech created an open-to-the-public workshop space where the in-house prototypers build new exhibits.

The Tech Virtual

The Tech Virtual launched in December 2007. On June 4, 2008, the world's first museum exhibits developed using this open source method opened in the museum's own Virtual Test Zone gallery. The seven exhibits, all contributed under a Creative Commons license and prototyped in the virtual world of Second Life, became part of the museum's Art, Film, Music and Games exhibition. The Virtual Test Zone gallery itself is a prototype exhibit area that will consistently feature virtual-to-real-world exhibits on specific themes resulting from The Tech Virtual programs.

Body Worlds Decoded

In 2017, Tech Interactive opened a semi-permanent exhibition called Body Worlds Decoded. Sponsored by venture capitalist John Doerr and his wife Ann, the exhibit features plastinated human anatomical specimens supplemented by augmented reality and a digital anatomy table. The exhibit is intended to run for at least 10 years.

Temporary exhibitions

On special occasions The Tech will rent out Parkside Hall from the City of San José to host special larger exhibits. In 2007, this hall was the home to the exhibit known as Body Worlds 2, which brought in over 280,000 guests. In winter of 2008, there was a special Leonardo da Vinci exhibit (called Leonardo: 500 Years into the Future) that displayed some of his inventions, discoveries, and artwork; it ended January 25, 2009, after a three-week extension.

The Tech formerly hosted Star Wars: Where Science Meets Imagination.

The Tech opened a new exhibition on Digital Music in March 2014, called REBOOT:music, including Tim Thompson's Space Palette.


The Tech Awards

The Tech Awards is a program of The Tech wherein a yearly ceremony is held for individuals and organizations to get recognition for their technological contributions to improving the human condition.

The Tech Challenge

The Tech Challenge is a signature program of The Tech. It is a design challenge competition for students Grades 4–12. Over the past 32 years, The Tech Challenge had around 25,000 students compete by building devices to solve issues such as wildfires, fish removal and landing on an asteroid.

The Tech Academies

In 2017, The Tech launched its "Tech Academies Initiative" to provide the opportunity for students to specialize their studies within broad fields (engineering, STEAM, maths, music, health sciences), allowing for greater, in-depth learning within subjects within programs designed by noted subject matter experts, including scientists from The Tech Museum of Innovation and Stanford University medical professors. It operates this program within four specialized public "focus academies" in the Morgan Hill Unified School District in Morgan Hill.

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