After Dark: Bioluminescence

Thursday, December 15, 2022 • 6:00–10:00 p.m.

Not a member yet? Join us and get free admission all year long!

Adults Only (18+)

Note: Free for members and donors—only a membership card and ID required for entry. The Tactile Dome is currently closed.

Have you ever admired the flashing of fireflies, or wondered at jellyfish that glow? Tonight, learn about bioluminescent life, from fireflies to marine organisms. Get hands-on with the science behind this phenomenon, and experience artworks that capture its radiance.

Bioluminescence is part of a series of adults-only seasonal programming inspired by the exhibition Glow: Discover the Art of Light, open November 17, 2022–January 29, 2023.

Please note: Osher Gallery 1 will only be available tonight with a ticket for Science of Cocktails @ After Dark. 


Glowing Cells
With Ulises Diaz

6:30–9:30 p.m.
Moore Gallery 4, Bio Bar

Get a look under the microscope at visually stunning microscopic organisms! These organisms have been fed fluorescent beads to help answer questions about how cells work and behave. The glowing tracers allow researchers to visualize flow inside single-celled organisms like amoebas and stentors. UCSF Graduate Student Researcher Ulises Diaz will be on hand to help you dive deep into what you’re seeing.  

Ulises Diaz is a PhD candidate at UCSF in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. His current work uses giant cells (1–5 millimeters) to study intracellular mixing and cellular regeneration.

Firefly Mating Game
With Ralph Washington Jr.

7:00 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3

How would you fare as a firefly? Join this large-scale interactive game where you’ll role-play as a firefly looking for a mate! Pick a side as a Signaler or Responder, and see if you can identify your potential mate’s flashing pattern among the crowd. But beware, success is not guaranteed—and you may even end up as someone’s dinnertime meal!

At 8:30 p.m., head up to Fisher Bay Observatory to check out a presentation from entomologist Ralph Washington Jr. He’ll illuminate what can be learned from the Firefly Mating Game, and more!

LEBs: Light-Emitting Bugs
With Ralph Washington Jr.

8:30 p.m.
Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6

Entomologist Ralph Washington Jr. shines a light on bioluminescent bugs—and specifically on fireflies. Learn about mating patterns, the physics of glowing, and other enlightening facts about these incandescent insects.

Ralph Washington Jr. has a master’s degree in entomology and is a three-time national and international champion of entomological natural history trivia. One of his favorite lessons from studying the lives of small creatures is the reminder that although life can often be hard, at least he isn’t a termite getting paralyzed by a toxic fart.

The Depths Aglow
With Andréa Fusco

7:30 p.m.
Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6

In the deepest parts of the ocean where no sunlight penetrates, creatures have evolved their own methods to light the darkness. Learn about the amazing array of ways these animals use light for communication, defense, and hunting. Andréa Fusco shares astounding observations about glowing ink from squids, strobing burglar alarms from jellies, sparkling pixie dust from gossamer worms, and more.

Andréa Fusco is a Living Systems Lab Technician at the Exploratorium. She has a strong passion for cephalopod science and received her master’s degree in marine biology from Northeastern University, where she studied cuttlefish feeding behavior.

DJ Murcutian
From Hip Hop for Change

6:30–9:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3

Get ready to dance your way through the night as DJ Murcutian from Hip Hop for Change sets the vibe and keeps the party moving! Murcutian is an Oakland-based selector best known for her clean blends and transitions, combined with her impeccable ear for song selection. She’s rocked crowds at venues like Zanzi in Oakland, the Rec Room in San Jose, and El Rio and 1015 Folsom in San Francisco. 

Hip Hop for Change is an Oakland-based nonprofit that uses grassroots activism to educate people about socioeconomic injustices and advocate solutions through hip-hop culture.

Science of Cocktails @ After Dark
6:00–10:00 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1
Special ticket required


Food and drinks will be available for purchase at our Seaglass Restaurant and additional bar locations.

Curious about what to expect during your visit? Check out our current safety protocols and guidelines.