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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.
Sound travels. From whale sounds audible over the span of miles to podcasts transmitted and listened to all over the globe, we’re living in an ocean of sound waves. Tune into what’s playing all around you with curated experiences about sound, the ways we use it to communicate, and the mechanisms that get it to us.
Full-Spectrum Science: Sound
With Ron Hipschman
7:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
What is sound? How high a pitch can you hear? Can you measure the speed of sound with a yardstick? Can two sounds add up to no sound? Join Exploratorium scientist Ron Hipschman for colorful explorations of these questions and more in this resonant presentation.
Listening to the Night
With Vanessa Lowe of KCRW's Nocturne Podcast
8:30 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
Do I truly know you if I only know the daytime you? Join in on a conversation with radio producer Vanessa Lowe about what goes on after night falls. Drawing from clips from her podcast and experience in sonic storytelling, Vanessa will share what can be discovered when we turn our attention outside of waking hours. Nocturne is an exploration of the night and of how thoughts, feelings, and behaviors transform in the dark.
Morse Code Exhibit Prototype
With Doug Thistlewolf
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Gallery 3
- .... .. ... / . -..- .... .. -... .. - / .-- .. .-.. .-.. / .... . .-.. .--. / ...- .. ... .. - --- .-. ... / - --- / ..- -. -.. . .-. ... - .- -. -.. / ... --- -- . / --- ..-. / - .... . / .... .. ... - --- .-. -.-- / -... . .... .. -. -.. / .-. .- -.. .. --- / -.-. --- -- -- ..- -. .. -.-. .- - .. --- -. / .- -. -.. / --. .. ...- . / - .... . -- / .- -. / --- .--. .--. --- .-. - ..- -. .. - -.-- / - --- / . -..- .--. . .-. .. . -. -.-. . / .. - / ..-. .. .-. ... - / .... .- -. -.. .-.-.-
Do you dig dots and dashes? Try out these two Morse Code exhibit prototypes and learn the history behind radio communication—then let your own fingers do the talking when you send a message of your own.
With the High School Explainers
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3
Tune in to surrounding sounds—experiment with strings and vibrations, use electromagnets to build a basic speaker, and learn how to listen with your bones. Then find out how sound gets into your brain from the outside world by getting to know the workings of the inner ear.
Listen to the Sounds of the Bay
With George Czeck
6:30–8:30 p.m. | Gallery 5
Tune in to the Exploratorium’s underwater soundscape with George Czeck. Scientists use sound to track animals and non-invasively monitor biological communities in difficult-to-access habitats, and recordings can also be used to assess the impact of a changing environment. Learn more about the importance of sound to marine life and listen to underwater soundscapes streamed live from below the Exploratorium's pier and sampled from Czeck's research.
Sound Scavenger Hunt
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Gallery 2, South Corridor
Take yourself on a search for sound and learn, in the process, how sound can travel through electricity. Our exhibit developers have hidden secret sounds, undetectable to the human ear, around the Exploratorium. Our equipment can help you hear them, if you can find them—so get out there and get listening.
Magnify Your Hearing
With the Explainers
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Light Lab
Have you ever wondered what your hair sounds like? How about the sound of the foam in your beer? Tune in to everyday sounds you can’t usually hear, using piezo microphones (also known as contact mics) as a kind of magnifying glass for your ears.
With with Zeke Kossover
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Gallery 4
There are bright lights in the big city, but they have secrets only your ears can detect. Learn how to use some simple tools like solar panels and speakers to tune in to the hidden flashes in bulbs, flashlights, and even your remote control.
Listen to Whale Sounds
With Yolande Harris
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6 and Observatory Terrace
Let the sounds of the ocean move you. This immersive audio and video experience by artist Yolande Harris features the sounds and songs of whales in Monterey Bay, collected by the MBARI (Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute) deep-ocean hydrophone, and makes deep connections between humans and cetaceans. Experience it with the After Dark community or take a private moment to go deep on your own.
With Rob Rothfarb
7:00–9:00 p.m. | Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6, Public Space
Get your rabbit ears on! Local AM/FM radio signals abound, but did you know that you can, with inexpensive radios, easily listen to high-frequency transmissions coming from distant locations? Our radio communications listening station will be plugged, in with antennas pointed at the airwaves and Rob Rothfarb assisting. Try out receivers, including software-defined radios (SDRs)—the latest way to tap into the frequency spectrum with computers and mobile devices—to hear what you can hear
7:00–10:00 p.m. | Gallery 2, Tinkering Studio
The magic of radio—of taking inaudible sound waves from the air, running them through a little box, and getting music or information—is enduring...and, of course, it isn’t magic at all. Let Explorables show you how it’s done: disassemble radios from different eras, hold in your hands the parts that make it all happen, and see the “magic” for yourself.
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 3
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.
Van de Graaff Generator
With the Explainers
Bechtel Gallery 3
Get ready to have your hair stand on end (literally). Experience our electrostatic generator firsthand—with high-voltage direct-current electricity turned down to low current levels, our Van de Graaff generator both will, and won’t, shock you. Please keep your hands on the sphere until our Explainers tell you to let go!
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.