Let there be light. Sunlight, moonlight, candlelight, firefly light, light bulb light, the light of bioluminescent creatures, even photobacteria, LED’s, EL’s and Lite-Brites. Around the holidays, as the days grow shorter and darker, don’t miss Light Insight: Holidays at the Exploratorium, a luminous December-long series of special events (and over 100 exhibits) that celebrate the wonders of light — how light tells us almost everything we know about nature, and that the study of nature tells us almost everything we need to know about light. If you’re wearing a light-emitting outfit or accessory, you’ll get in for half-price admission on the weekend of December 17 & 18. Don’t have a lit-up accessory? Make one at our LED or EL-Wire workshops on December 10th and 11th. Find out about bioluminescence, make light-based toys, paint with light, dress in lights, make an interactive light sculpture or walk the light labyrinth in December. Or see A Child’s Christmas in Wales and a Holiday Animation Film Series. Light Insight: Holidays at the Exploratorium is included in the price of admission.
For starters, what does photobacteria have to do with light or the holidays? In A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens describes the ghost of Marley as “ having a dismal light about it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar.” Dicken’s literary license is based on fact — when lobsters die, they are colonized by bacteria, including the glowing photobacteria that holiday visitors will find on December 3. See below for special “light” events on December 3, 10, 11,17,18, 24, 26-31:
December 3: Living Light: The Wonders of Bioluminescence, McBean Theater, 1pm
Long before humans invented the flashlight, organisms were creating their own light with chemical reactions inside their bodies. Scientists call this phenomenon bioluminescence, and it occurs in some species of insects, bacteria, fish, worms, squid, and jellyfish. In this special presentation, Steve Haddock of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing will introduce us to some deep-sea gelatinous animals and explain how they produce and use bioluminescence.
December 10: EL Wire Workshop: Adorn and Sculpt with Light, 10:30am - 12:30pm
Join Oakland based artist Benjamin James Jr. as he introduces the world of electroluminescent (EL) wire, a thin, flexible tube with an electrically chargeable phosphorus-coated wire. Design and create unique glow-in-the-dark necklaces or delicate sculptures that will illuminate the wintry days of December.
In this hands-on workshop, all materials are provided. Recommended for ages 10 and up. Limited capacity. For advance reservations, please contact: (415) 674-2870. Please note: There is a $15 materials fee for both Exploratorium members and visitors paying general admission.
December 11: Industrial Light: Light Emitting Diodes (LED) Workshop, 10:30am
Ever wonder what causes those interesting hues on the indicator lights of computers and cars, or the signal lights at intersections? LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes), created by mixing inorganic minerals with semiconductors, emit light within a spectrum of jewel-toned colors. Join artist and educator Scott Gasparian to create glow-in-the-dark, wearable art and sculptures. In this hands-on workshop, all materials are provided. Recommended for ages 10 and up. Limited capacity. For advance reservations, please contact: (415) 674-2870. Please note: There is a $15 materials fee for both Exploratorium members and visitors paying general admission.
December 17: Physics of Toys: Trip the Light Fantastic, 11am – 3pm
Light up your day with the Physics of Toys team. Build light gadgets, optical art, and wearable, luminous accessories as part of the Exploratorium's month-long celebration of light. Keep these
delightful objects for yourself, or brighten someone’s day by presenting it as a gift.
December 17: Painting with Light!, 1pm – 4pm
Join us for an afternoon of exploring and painting with programmable LED lights! Create your own playful, expressive artwork by "painting" in the air with color changing LEDs. We'll capture your masterpiece in a digital image for you to admire. Limited capacity. First come, first served. The activity takes approximately 5 minutes and will be available on a drop-in basis from 1pm – 4pm. Free with museum admission.
December 17 & 18: Dress in Lights
If it flashes, glows, shines, or otherwise emits light, we want you to wear it here! The Exploratorium Explainers will also be modeling their favorite glowing accoutrements. If you’re wearing a light-emitting outfit or accessory, you’ll get in for half-price admission. Don’t have a lit-up accessory? Make one at our LED or EL-Wire workshops on December 10th and 11th.
December 17 & 18: Light Labyrinth: 10am – 5pm
The oldest known labyrinth designs date back more than 3,000 years. Unlike a maze, a labyrinth has only one path to its center, inviting the user to contemplate the journey rather than the puzzle. This December, we’re taking this ancient idea and giving it a modern twist by crafting a seven-circuit labyrinth out of rope lights. Whether you choose to walk it slowly in quiet meditation or swiftly with joyful exuberance, this glimmering labyrinth of light will surely enchant you.
December 17 & 18: Interactive Light Sculpture, 10am-5pm
Join other museum visitors to create a beautiful glowing installation by manipulating colored acrylic pegs. Make patterns, create pictures, and have fun playing with light at our giant Lite Brite™-inspired sculpture.
December 24: Holiday Film Program, McBean Theater, noon
A Child’s Christmas in Wales, written and narrated by Dylan Thomas, screens at noon, along with the classic animated film The Sweater.
December 26-31: Annual Holiday Animation Film Series, McBean Theater, noon and 2pm
This program celebrates the art of animation both old and new, as well as short documentaries.
Over 100 exhibits that deal with light, color and things that glow in the dark.
Light as an Artistic Medium 1930/2005
Exploratorium Seeing Gallery, December 1 2005 through January 8 2006
László Moholy-Nagy was the first artist to use physical light as a sculptural medium. In 1930 he created an “art machine’ that produced a constantly changing field of light and shadow, used originally as a prop in a film. The exhibition counterpoints the film installation of this Moholy-Nagy’s work with a cutting edge work from today, Aequator, by German “light” artist Thomas Bertels.