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Free for After Dark Members
Adults Only (18+)
Note: The Tactile Dome and some programs have limited capacity and are available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.
Lose yourself in over 650 interactive exhibits exploring perception, art, and science at our adults-only After Dark. Grab your friends and a drink and get immersed in mind-bending experiences and unique, thought-provoking programs.
The West Coast (often known as the Best Coast) and its unique history and environment have created an ever-changing culture and landscape. Come explore the work of California artists, learn about our coastline, explore hidden histories of the state, and taste sustainably caught seafood in our Pairings program.
With the High School Explainers
6:30, 7:30, 8:30, and 9:30 p.m. | Gallery 4 Explainer Station
Some creatures can’t help but to go with the flow. Join our Explainers in exploring flora and fauna found right below our museum’s pier.
Pairings: San Francisco Bay Seafood
With Loretta Keller, Curtis Knight, and Clay Reynolds
7:00 p.m. | Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6
Please note: Seating and tastings for Pairings are limited to 120 ticketed guests. Pick up your free ticket at the Observatory.
Eating local can mean buying from nearby farms or careful foraging in open spaces—but don’t forget one of the best sources of local food: San Francisco Bay. First, learn about eating from the bounty of the Bay as chef Loretta Keller demonstrates how to clean and fillet local night smelt. Then catch some California seafood—and the natural history of the Bay—with Curtis Knight, the executive director of California Trout. Finally, explore the origins and varieties of California-style steam beer with beverage director Clay Reynolds.
In The Land of My Ancestors
With Rucha Chitnis
7:30 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
California has been inhabited for over 13,000 years, but the history, knowledge, and practice of the peoples who cultivated and cared for the land through the millennia have been mostly eradicated through colonialism and Western expansion. Watch a short documentary and share in a discussion around the reclamation of territory for indigenous spiritual and ecological practices.
Kelp in Crisis
With Dr. Laura Rogers-Bennett
7:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Webcast Studio
Northern California kelp forests are an iconic and invaluable ecosystem, but they’ve been reduced to an all-time low due to a “perfect storm” of large-scale ecological impacts. With the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Dr. Laura Rogers-Bennet has documented the impacts of climate change and a massive marine heat wave on kelp and abalone resource declines in northern California over the past 20 years. Come learn about her work and peer into the future of California’s kelp forests.
Everything Matters: Rubidium
With Ron Hipschman
8:30 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
Soft and silvery at room temperature, the element rubidium is nevertheless explosive, and a bit of a shape-shifter: it oxidizes quickly in air and reacts so violently with water that the hydrogen gas produced by the reaction tends to catch fire. (For these reasons, rubidium is typically stored in oil or in sealed glass ampoules.) In some cases, humans have taken advantage of this volatility: named for the red lines appearing in its emission spectrum—“rubidus” is Latin for “deep red”—its compound rubidium nitrate is used to color fireworks purple.
Super Cali Fragile Ecosystems
With Alexander Pinigis
8:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Webcast Studio
California is world-famous as the home of some of the world's greatest natural wonders. But you don't have to go to Joshua Tree, Yosemite, or Death Valley to see unique and beautiful ecosystems. Join Exploratorium biologist Alex Pinigis on a botanical tour of the Northern California coast and discover some of the biodiversity our great state has to offer.
With Cinema Arts
6:00–7:30 and 9:00–10:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Webcast Studio
Drop in and catch a gnarly wave without getting soaked. This looping selection of films highlights the West Coast’s greatest sport, surfing.
Food Coloring: Food to Dye For
With Field Trip Explainers
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Sun Painting
Are you dye-ing to paint with California plant pigments? Make your mark with some of the produce California is known for and paint the coast you love most. Learn about natural dyeing techniques from the Exploratorium’s famed Explainers and discover for yourself the botanical properties of some of California’s leading produce.
Crafting with Sea Urchins
With Maria Finn
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Gallery 4
Sea urchins are predators of kelp—and in the past few years, they’ve destroyed much of the ecologically vital kelp forest along the Northern California coast. As efforts are made to rid the Bay of invasive urchins, the next problem is what to do with them. Investigate the creative things you can do with former San Francisco Bay sea urchins from author and journalist Maria Finn.
Help the Kelp
With Sheila Semans
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Gallery 4
Bull kelp forests are the foundation—or structure—of our nearshore coastal ecosystem. Their floating canopy gives shelter to young fish and the kelp itself provides food for valuable species.However, our kelp forests are in serious trouble due to higher sea surface temperatures and a disease that has removed a key predator of purple sea urchins, a voracious eater of kelp. But you can help! Talk with Noyo Center Executive Director Sheila Semans and learn about efforts to save the kelp.
With Lindsay Wildlife Experience
7:30–8:30 p.m. | Roaming
California native wildlife sometimes needs a little help from its friends. Some of those friends are the Lindsay Wildlife Experience. Get up close and personal with some California wildlife and their human pals as they wander the museum.
Osher Gallery 1
Journey through total darkness in this twisting, turning, tactile sculpture. Walk, crawl, climb, and slide your way through a wonderland of textures using only your sense of touch as a guide.
Please Note: Due to the nature of this experience, certain restrictions apply. Guests who are afraid of the dark; claustrophobic; have back, neck, or knee injuries; or are in their third trimester of pregnancy should not participate. Guests wearing casts are prohibited. Also, please wear comfortable clothes.
You can reserve tickets for our 6:15 and 7:00 p.m. sessions. We also operate drop-in, first-come, first-served sessions at 7:45, 8:30, and 9:15 p.m.; tickets can be purchased at the Information Desk.
Learn more about the Tactile Dome.
6:00–9:45 unless noted
Various locations throughout the museum
Ticketing at 6:00 p.m., first come, first served
Osher Gallery 1
Draw hypnotically flowing patterns with a swinging table, and watch friction cause the patterns to slowly shrink along a spiral path. Pick up a ticket to reserve your spot in line for this popular activity.
Bechtel Gallery 2
Tune in to surrounding sounds by experimenting with strings and vibrations, and use electromagnets to build a basic speaker. Learn how to listen with your bones, and explore the workings of the inner ear.
Cow Eye or Flower Dissection (alternating)
Do cows see color? How does a lens work? Examine the intricate structure of a cow eye to learn about similar structures in our own eyes, as well as some key differences.
Stigma, stamen, pistil, anther, style: Uncover the beautiful architecture of flower anatomy, and gather some surprising strategies that plants use to reproduce.
Osher Gallery 1
Everything is not as it seems—at first. Pick a card, any card, and watch the Explainers reveal some surprising aspects of human perception.