Note: Some programs have limited seating and will be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.
Reinvent your Thursday nights at After Dark. Experience a fascinating array of unique, adult-only programs and events that change each week. Grab dinner by the Bay, play with hundreds of hands-on exhibits, crawl through our pitch-black Tactile Dome, sip cocktails, and explore.
Excite your atoms at After Dark: Glow, our annual festival of ebullient lights and subtle glows celebrating the close of the year. Bask in the mesmerizing gleams of special installations, take a shine to illuminating exhibits, and show your sparkle with scintillating activities.
With Ron Hipschman
8:00 p.m. | Kanbar Forum
Why do things give off light? There are many ways to make light, and all of them involve exciting atoms and molecules in some way. Join Exploratorium physicist Ron Hipschman to investigate some of the more colorful ways to make things glow. Using electricity, heat, and light, he’ll conduct a variety of demonstrations to illuminate the electromagnetic spectrum. Participants will receive a pair of diffraction grating glasses to take home.
Luminescent Life Forms
With Caitlin Jackson
7:00–9:00 p.m. | East Gallery, Microscope Imaging Station
Learn the fascinating uses and history of the green fluorescent protein (GFP). First discovered in the jellyfish Aequorea victoria, GFP has been used extensively as a gene marker, granting researchers a visually identifiable affirmation of gene expression. See its luminescent effect in various species under the microscope, such as wriggling C. elegans.
Fish Light District
With Denise King
6:00–9:00 p.m. | North Gallery
Gaze into a floating ‘window’ on the Bay to find little fish lured by its light, and watch plankton gather inside a glowing trap.
By Stephen Dudek
6:00–10:00 p.m. | West Gallery
Stop and see three softly illuminated roses constructed from cut plastic, LEDs, and white fabric. Standing five feet in diameter, each light sculpture is drawn from the rose equation r = cos(12/7θ).
The Roses will remain on view in the West Gallery through Sunday, January 10.
By Todd Cooper
6:00–10:00 p.m. | West Gallery, Black Box
More than a mile and a half of fluorescent twine woven onto a 10-foot, steel and wooden frame glows brightly under black light LEDs. Solitaire belongs to The Family Jewels, a trio of sculptures built at Burning Man 2015 by a dedicated team of over 25 volunteers sharing their combined expertise in art, design, building, engineering, robotics, and more.
Solitaire will remain on view in the Black Box through Sunday, December 6.
By Christopher Schardt
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Central Gallery
Gaze up at two diamond-shaped canopies comprised of 7, 200 LEDs alight with images of shooting stars, Hubble Space Telescope photos, the aurora borealis, and other visions of the skies accompanied by soothing classical music. These kite-shaped pieces represent a fraction of the original Firmament built for Burning Man 2015, in which a 42-foot tower suspended a 10-foot high, 52-feet in diameter dome of 21,600 individually controllable LEDs.
This incarnation will be on view in the Central Gallery from Tuesday, December 1 through Sunday, January 10.
By Christopher Schardt
6:00 –10:00 p.m. | Ticketing
Seville consists of 16 LED strips wrapped around a six-foot tall cylinder to form a helix. Controlled by an iPad app from LED Lab, particles of color can be sent along its helical paths, and map videos and other images can be sent to the cylinder's surface.
A pair of Sevilles, wound in opposite directions for a dramatic mirror effect, mark the entrance to Glow tonight.
By Benjamin James and Ka-Ping Yee
6:00–10:00 p.m. | East Gallery
Wave, gesture, or dance to command this 20-foot visual instrument. A small movement creates a flicker; a sweeping motion throws a brilliant fountain of color.
Light Orchestra awaits your move in the East Gallery every Thursday night from December 3 through January 7.
By Kate Stirr
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Bay Observatory Gallery
The wavering line where land meets sea is host to a diverse ecosystem of mostly invertebrates capable of tolerating acute fluctuations in temperature and exposure to water and air. Adapted to these extremes, plants and animals of the intertidal zone are activated with the incoming tide.
Intertidal is a sculptural imagining of a rocky shoreline and its inhabitants, where proximity sensors triggered by an incoming tide of visitors prompts pulsing LED sequences inside each invented creature.
By Alan Rorie
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Phyllis C. Wattis Webcast Studio
Turn 464 dials to produce every color of the rainbow—in any design you choose. Inspired by everyone’s favorite childhood toy the Lite-Brite, Everbright is 42 times bigger, clears with the touch of a button, and includes mesmerizing animations. Tune into collaborative possibilities, and feel that inner glow of creative preoccupation.
7:00–10:00 p.m. | Central Gallery Classrooms
That’s a glow blow: Dip into a specially made solution and blow flotillas of bubbles that glow under a black light.
With the Explainers
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Central Gallery
Unlike other light sources, lasers emit light of exactly one color, or wavelength. Take aim at the singular science of lasers through an interactive demonstration involving prisms, plexiglass, mirrors, and fog.
Take a seat and explore how different colors affect you.
Strike a pose in front of the phosphor walls. Wait for the flash and see your shadow temporarily freeze.
Wave your hand under the table to create wondrous light mosaics.
Powder inside a fluorescent tube makes invisible light visible.
See the distinct “fingerprints” of light from different light sources.
Bacteria that Glow
These bacteria glow when you bubble air into the tank.
These worms glow because they have a gene transplanted from glowing jellyfish.
Life in a Drop of Water
Light projected through a drop of saltwater reveals abundant life.
Tiny zooplankton dance together beneath blue light.
Plankton can distinguish between different colors in light. Notice which they prefer.