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After Dark: Fruiting Fungi

A group of mushrooms growing out of a mossy tree
After Dark: Fruiting Fungi

Did you know that mushrooms are the fruiting body of fungi? Hidden among forest floor and decaying logs, these ephemeral organisms are way more than a forager’s delight or a (sometimes) tasty dish. Join us for a fungi-tastic evening of mushroom identification and cultivation. Discover local specimens, use mushrooms for art, and then catch a live cooking demonstration at the return of our food science event Pairings!

Pairings: Mushrooms
6:30 & 8:00 P.M.
Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6
With Cat Adams, Clay Reynolds, Julie Yu, and Chef Loretta Keller

Get ready for an unforgettable journey from the deep forest to your kitchen table! Learn about a seasonal mushroom delicacy and savory fungi cocktail from Clay Reynolds and Chef Loretta Keller. And then absorb and digest the science of fungi with Exploratorium scientist Julie Yu and special guest Cat Adams, who will share their insights into mushroom preparation and the surprising effects of fungal fragrances.

Mushrooms is part of our Pairings event series at After Dark. If you intend to consume alcohol, please remember to bring your IDs. Tastings are open to After Dark Members only and must be reserved in advance. For exclusive access to this and more tastings, become an After Dark member.

Hungry for more? Mushroom quesadillas with handmade tortillas will be available for purchase at Seaglass Restaurant.  

Learn More and RSVP


Cat Adams, PhD is a fungal ecologist interested in how chemistry such as toxins, light, or fragrances drive interactions between fungi and other living things. Her postdoctoral research examines how fragrances made by a plant root-associated fungus impact their friendly neighborhood bacteria. Cat also loves metal music.

Clay Reynolds is a San Francisco restaurateur and beverage professional who has been leading innovative programs in the city for over 20 years. He currently works with his partner, Loretta Keller, to provide food service for the Exploratorium and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. He also operates Uccello Lounge, a new restaurant, bar, and jazz joint located in the heart of the city’s arts district.

Julie Yu, PhD is Principal Scientist at the Exploratorium with a background in chemical engineering and molecular biology. She considers food as a way of bringing together science, culture, identity, and eating.

Chef Loretta Keller is committed to satisfying appetites, stimulating minds, and promoting organic farming and sustainable food systems. Her restaurants have included Bizou, Coco500, and The Moss Room and Academy Café at the California Academy of Sciences. She runs Uccello Lounge and Seaglass Restaurant at the Exploratorium with her partner Clay Reynolds.

Mushroom Dyes
6:30–9:30 p.m.
Gordon and Betty Moore Gallery 4: Living Systems
With Mayumi Fujio

Mushroom dyes are a relatively new form of natural dye, but it can have a transformative effect on yarn. Join fiber artist Mayumi Fujio to try your hand at the process, experiment with dyes that react to UV light, and immerse yourself in some of Mayumi’s work.

Mayumi Fujio works with natural dye, mushroom dye, and botanical prints on different media. She harvests materials sustainably around the Bay Area.

Mushroom Menagerie
6:30–9:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3
With Bay Area Applied Mycology

Our wet winter has produced an astounding quantity and variety of mushrooms. Come see a bounty on display from recent fungal forays and talk to experts about best field practices, what mushrooms you can find where, and taxonomy.

Bay Area Applied Mycology (BAAM) is a nonprofit organization using scientific research and fungi to solve environmental problems, build community, and support sustainability across many different fields.

CA Grown: Outdoor Mushroom Cultivation
7:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3
With Justin McDavid

With its Mediterranean climate, Northern California can be a challenging place for intentional, outdoor mushroom cultivation. However, with a better understanding of trees, fungi, and local ecology, you can turn your backyard into a productive mushroom-growing space. Join Justin McDavid of Bay Area Applied Mycology to discuss types of inoculation, material sourcing, growing conditions, pitfalls to avoid, and special considerations for outdoor success.

Justin McDavid has a masters in human-centered design and engineering, and is the current president of the nonprofit Bay Area Applied Mycology (BAAM) group. He believes that fungi have immense potential in fighting climate change, environmental degradation, and food insecurity.

Caps and STEM: Mushrooms in the Lab
8:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3
With Mario Gabiati

How can mushrooms connect us to the field of STEM? Join scientists from the Science Laboratories of Practical Education (SLOPE) to take a closer look at fungi and the amazing roles they play in art, cooking, medicine, and biomaterials. Then we’ll be zooming in on cordyceps to learn about how students from Minerva University developed a food product using these mushrooms grown on rice.

Mario Gabiati is the founder of the Science Laboratories of Practical Education (SLOPE), a microbiology teaching lab and startup incubator in Oakland, California where students, educators, and founders work together to bring new ideas to the market and the classroom. He is also the founder of the popular mycelial mass mushroom meetup, which has been doing monthly speaker events and science-forward mushroom hunts since 2014.

Mushrooms under the Microscope
6:30–9:30 p.m.
Gordon and Betty Moore Gallery 4: Living Systems

Get a close look at the beautiful patterns hidden inside mushroom samples! Guided by technicians from the Science Laboratories of Practical Education (SLOPE), you can observe the inner beauty of mushrooms at a microscope station and practice mounting your own slide for inspection.

Based in Oakland, Science Laboratories of Practical Education (SLOPE) is a collaborative microbiology teaching lab that strives to build an effective curriculum through merging art and play with serious science and engineering skills.

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