After Dark: Death and Life

Thursday, October 27, 2022 • 6:00–10:00 p.m.

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Adults Only (18+)

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

Autumn is a season of transition. As vital summer gives way to a quieter, more dormant period, we witness falling leaves and shortening days. Traditions from around the globe like Día de Muertos (and even Halloween) reflect this time of change by recognizing death and the role it plays in the cycle of life. Join us tonight as we consider this seasonal transition and its cultural significance through the lenses of astronomy, agriculture, and thanatology—the study of death.


Living with the Stars on Día de Muertos
With Isabel Hawkins

7:30 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum

What are the connections between Día de Muertos in Mesoamerica and astronomy? And how can simple tools help us to understand the passage of time? Dive into these issues with Exploratorium Senior Scientist Isabel Hawkins. She’ll discuss her experiences collaborating with Maya colleagues in Mexico and Guatemala, and explore the meaning of Día de Muertos from astronomical and cultural perspectives.  


With Cole Imperi

8:30 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum

Defined as the study of death, thanatology is a cross-discipline practice that examines a universal experience—and it isn’t as scary as it might seem. Join thanatologist Cole Imperi as she addresses the difficult and taboo realities of death, dying, and the surrounding impacts on the living. She will shed light on the science and culture of the fall season and invite you to consider your own mortality in this spirit-lifting presentation. 

Cole Imperi (she/her/they) is an author, speaker, triple-certified thanatologist, founder of the School of American Thanatology, and one of America’s leading experts on death, dying, and grief. She is best known for her work pioneering the fields of Thanabotany™ and Deathwork™ (which includes Death Companioning) and through her development of Shadowloss™, Shadowlight™, and Dremains™.


With the Mexican Museum

6:00–10:00 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1

Visit an ofrenda (altar) created by the Mexican Museum. Built in three tiers, it incorporates offerings traditionally found on ofrendas—like candles, flowers, and food for the departed—as well as items from the museum’s collection. Look around you and you’ll also find a slideshow about bone washing, a Día de Muertos tradition in certain Maya communities.

The mission of the Mexican Museum is to voice the complexity and richness of Latino art and culture throughout the Americas, and to engage and facilitate dialogue among the broadest public.


Death Eaters
With Simon Meyer

6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 p.m.
Moore Gallery 4, Explainer Station

Immerse yourself in a sensory exploration of our planet’s most versatile decomposers—join former Exploratorium Explainer Simon Meyer as he dives into the weird, delicious, and suspicious world of fungi. Come marvel at the role fungi play in the balance of life and death.


Día de Muertos Videos
6:00–10:00 p.m. 
Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Studio

Check out two new videos that dive into the cultural traditions of Día de Muertos. Maya elder Doña María Ávila Vera and Exploratorium Senior Scientist Isabel Hawkins explain how this celebration is connected to astronomy, the changing of the seasons, and even corn-based foods. And artist Irma Ortiz shares her process for making sugar skulls, a traditional craft that honors the departed.


DJ Lady Ryan
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 Lady Ryan from Hip Hop for Change sets the vibe and keeps the party moving! Lady Ryan brings her deep knowledge of multiple genres and a touch of nostalgia to After Dark. She has opened for artists such as George Clinton, Erykah Badu, and Anderson .Paak, and has held long-standing residencies at some of the East Bay’s most popular clubs and breweries. 

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.

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.