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Established in 1983, Cinema Arts at the Exploratorium has defied expectations by focusing on artist-made and independent cinema at the crossroads of art and science.
Throughout 2023, the Exploratorium will present a special series of curated screenings, public events, and immersive filmmaking experiences celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Cinema Arts. The series will acknowledge Cinema Arts’ history, pay tribute to the accomplished filmmakers who over the decades helped ferment the program’s innovative direction, and showcase and amplify the voices and visions of a new generation of curators and emerging interdisciplinary/media artists.
Approaching movies as an active experience, Cinema Arts sees the projection screen as a portal to investigation. We engage with filmmakers who create works that inspire the imagination and instigate conversation. Animation, documentary, poetic observations, and abstract visuals serve a broad spectrum of curious audiences while blending the methods and aesthetics of artists and scientists. Through our programming, we create a space for deep observation and provide an opportunity for visitors to explore compelling people, places, and ideas that extend through the museum and beyond.
Help us celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Exploratorium’s groundbreaking Cinema Arts program.
Our collection of films and events offer a rich resource for public audiences, and also provide an important research collection for both our teaching programs and exhibit development teams.
Saturday, March 25, 2023 • 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.
Join us for two short films related to ¡Plantásticas!: Our Lives with Plants, a new exhibition celebrating the history and science of plants and their integral role in connecting us to our cultures and our planet.
Thursday, April 6, 2023 • 6:00–10:00 p.m.
Spring is in swing and new life is popping up everywhere. Tonight, be inspired by flora in our ¡Plantásticas! exhibition and enjoy a life-giving cabaret of art and science with the Gold Beams Social Club.
Thursday, April 13, 2023 • 6:00–10:00 p.m.
The Exploratorium is your playground after dark! Tonight, immerse yourself in Drawing Sound, a performance by Fred Frith and Heike Liss that explores the nature of improvisation.
Thursday, October 16, 2014 • 7:00 and 9:00 p.m.
In this one-time-only event, The Residents’ album Eskimo (1979) is presented as a multichannel, 3D sound spectacular accompanied by the equally innovative visuals of their companion Eskimo DVD (2002).
Wednesday, October 15, 2014 • 7:00 p.m.
The George Kuchar Reader, edited by Andrew Lampert, features never-before published and long out-of-print words, comics, and photos. To celebrate the book’s release, Lampert will read a few selections and present rarely screened 16mm films from Kuchar’s catalog.
Saturday, October 4, 2014 • 1:00, 1:30, 2:00, 2:30, 3:00 and 3:30 p.m.
Created in collaboration with cinematographer Andy Black, Sam Green's A Cinematic Study takes a poetic view of a complex natural phenomenon that for many months each year defines the psycho-geography of the region.
Saturday, September 27, 2014 • 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 p.m.
In breaking down motion and considering the inner workings of our physical forms, this program examines the central element of each moment. Bodies become invitations to exploration in these inside, up-close, slowed-down, and inventive looks at our corporeal selves.
Thursday, September 25, 2014 • 7:30 p.m.
Gather outside on the Exploratorium Bay Observatory Terrace to watch the drama of creating The Bay Lights installation unfold in the new documentary Impossible Light, while the artwork itself glimmers just beyond the screen.
Saturday, September 20, 2014 • 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.This program focuses on two nearly forgotten films from the collection of the New York–based Film-Makers’ Cooperative. Created by youths raised by artists, their works demonstrate levels of skill and complexity that belie their ages.
Thursday, September 18, 2014 • 8:00 p.m.The haunting effects of a Technicolor printing error take center stage in this performance and talk by John Klacsmann and Walter Forsberg. In Technicolor N.G., a misprinted Western reveals cyan ghosts and cinema’s psychedelic underpinnings.
Saturday, September 6, 2014 • 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 p.m.One of the greatest short films ever made, The Mascot is an inventive stop-motion animation featuring a troupe of charismatic puppets and a stuffed dog’s quest to bring his dying owner an orange.
Saturday, August 30, 2014 • 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 p.m.Join us for a glimpse of the Exploratorium’s early years with the 1974 film Exploratorium. Commissioned by founder Frank Oppenheimer, the film presents a tone poem of space in motion foregrounded by exhibits and visitor interactions, highlighting innovation and wonder.
Friday, August 22, 2014 • 7:00 p.m.New York–based Imagine Science Films brings their first West Coast program to the Exploratorium. “Experiments on Film” presents inventive takes on the science experiment. The evening concludes with an informal panel discussion.
Saturday, August 16, 2014 • 1:00 and 3:00 p.m.For decades, San Francisco–based Canyon Cinema has been a key distributor of avant-garde and artist-made films. This mind-expanding program introduces audiences to the pleasures of experimental cinema.
Saturday, August 9, 2014 • 1:00, 2:00, and 3:00 p.m.Uncover the charisma of everyday objects. From artful studies of the complex ways that seemingly simple objects are constructed to comical glimpses of people clearing paths through clutter, these films focus on stuff.