LIGO Hanford Observatory's new LIGO Exploration Center (LExC) is open to the public! Designed by Terence L. Thornhill (Architect) and built by DGR Grant Construction, LExC will be able to accommodate up to 10,000 field-trip students each year, in addition to many public visitors. (Credit: Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab/Amber Strunk)

LIGO Exploration Center (LExC)

LIGO Hanford Observatory invites the public to visit the LIGO Exploration Center (LExC).

LExC features a 5,000 sq ft exhibit hall home to exciting interactive exhibits focused on gravitational waves and related sciences, as well as hardware reflecting the history of gravitational wave astronomy. Displayed in the lobby are additional hardware exhibits featuring LIGO engineering, and a replica of Rainer Weiss’s 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics, which he was awarded alongside Kip Thorne and Barry Barish for “decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.” Beyond the medal, a panoramic window provides a spectacular view of Rattlesnake Mountain, or Lalíik, which is held sacred by many local Indigenous communities. Near the window is the center’s activity room, which can be split into two separate rooms with a retractable wall. The activity room welcomes both students and teachers to learn and participate in LIGO educator-led activities. LExC's completion was the culmination of years of hard work by the LIGO team and its partners. We are excited to share this space with visitors.

LExC is open to the public, free of charge during the hours of operation listed below. LHO adheres to Caltech's holiday schedule, so click on the "excluding holidays" link to make sure we'll be open on the day you plan to visit.

LExC page collage

Left: The Wave Machine exhibit (credit: Kim Fetrow Photography). Middle: LExC lobby and exhibit hall entrance (credit: Caltech/MIT/LIGO Lab/Cassidy Eassa). Right: Warped space time in the Gravity Floor exhibit (credit: Kim Fetrow Photography).

LExC Hours of Operation (excluding holidays):

  • Sunday: CLOSED
  • Monday: CLOSED
  • Tuesday: 9:30am - 4:00pm
  • Wednesday: 9:30am - 4:00pm
  • Thursday: 9:30am - 4:00pm
  • Friday: 9:30am - 4:00pm
  • Saturday: CLOSED

You may also request a special visit for larger groups using one of the following resources:

Private Tour Request

Field Trip Request

For current driving directions, please click on the "Driving Directions" tab above, or click HERE.


LExC celebrated its grand opening on June 2, 2022 with some invited guests and key government officials who were instrumental in making the facility a reality. View the live recording of the Grand Opening ceremony here: