Why 'plores' rather than 'exhibits'?

The word 'explore', from which we derive our name the Exploratory, has the Latin root 'explorare' – to search out. Although 'exploratory' is not given as a noun in the O.E.D. there no reason why it should not be accepted as a noun, by analogy with familiar words derived from activities such as 'Observatory' and 'Laboratory'. Just so, 'Exploratory' is the noun of the activity of searching out or exploring. 'Exploratory' is closely related to the American 'Exploratorium' but it is simpler and it is already familiar in English, though not as a noun. The name Exploratory reflects due deference to Frank Oppenheimer’s pioneering Exploratorium, while the difference guards against confusion.

'Plore' is coined because there is no existing word having the required meaning. The equivalent museum words 'Demonstration', 'Working Model', 'Artefact', or the most commonly used, 'Exhibit' (which one may note can be used as a noun or a verb) are far too passive in meaning and specifically associated with passive viewing; but we wish to include the touching, handling and generally active exploration which is the essence of the Exploratory. So we call our hands-on models, experimental apparatus, puzzles and games-against-nature 'Plores' – to be explored in the Exploratory by Explorers.


Adapted from: The Exploratory Interactive Science Centre, Plan for Action 1, February 1983 and The Exploratory Interactive Science Centre, Plan for Action 2, February 1985.



© 2000 The Exploratory
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