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Adults Only (18+)
Note: The Tactile Dome and some programs have limited capacity. Entry to the Tactile Dome requires separate admission.
Reach out for a truly hands-on encounter during this evening dedicated to the sense of touch. In celebration of the anniversary of the opening of the Tactile Dome, feel your way through the darkened labyrinth, sharpen your tactile perception, and learn about the complex system that connects the outer world to your inner reality. It’s sure to be a touching experience.
Lose yourself in thought-provoking programs and mind-bending experiences at adults-only After Dark Thursdays—including more than 650 interactive exhibits exploring perception, art, and science. Grab some friends, stash your stuff in our musical lockers, get a drink at one of our pop-up bars or food at Seaglass Restaurant, and start exploring. You may find that things look different after dark.
Feeling Is Believing?
With Zeke Kossover
6:30, 7:30, and 8:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1 Demo Station
You won’t believe your hands—experience this demonstration of surprising tactile illusions.
Science of the Sense
With Sophia Rose Williams
7:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
Get in touch with the science in your skin! Researcher Sophia Williams unpacks and explains how we perceive the world outside our bodies. From the sensitivities of our epidermis to the diverse neural activations that correlate to our perceptions, let this talk reveal the surprising complexities of our sense of touch.
With Sean Follmer
8:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
How do we preserve embodied engagement in a virtual world? Peer into the future of interactive, haptic technologies with Sean Follmer, the director of Stanford’s Shape Lab. His research in human computer interaction, haptics, and human-robot interaction explores the design of new tactile-physical interfaces and novel robotic devices.
Everything Matters: Ruthenium
With Ron Hipschman
8:00 p.m. | Fisher Bay Observatory 6
Known for its hardness and durability, the element ruthenium is present in nearly every electronic object that makes our lives run smoothly. But get this—in another context, it also helps bring invisible fingerprints to light. Discover the extraordinary properties and uses of this platinum-group metal with Ron Hipschman as part of his series Everything Matters.
Legends of the Tactile Dome
With Ken Finn and Viv Altmann
9:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
Hear the hidden histories of the Exploratorium’s most famous exhibit as longtime staff members Ken Finn and Viv Altmann illuminate and illustrate behind-the-scenes stories from the Tactile Dome. Originally created in 1971, the Tactile Dome was designed and built by Dr. August F. Coppola (father of actor Nicolas Cage and brother of filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola) with the intention of making people aware of the complexity and sensitivity of the sense of touch. In the near half-century since, thousands of visitors have walked, crawled, climbed, and slid their way through a wonderland of textures using only their sense of touch as a guide. Come find out if the legends are true!
By Karina Smigla-Bobinski
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Black Box
Experience a landscape of astonishing visual effects in artist Karina Smigla-Bobinski’s interactive installation Kaleidoscope. Constructed as an 8-foot-square light box, Kaleidoscope invites you to push and press on its surface to reveal an infinite pattern of vibrant colors.
With Shape Lab
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1
Feel your way toward the future of touch and technology as students from Stanford’s Shape Lab demonstrate the latest research prototypes in haptics. Talk to the researchers on the front lines and check out their work, including a shape-shifting tactile display, visio-haptic VR illusion, and tabletop swarm robots.
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 purchase advance tickets for our 6:15 and 7:00 p.m. sessions. You can also purchase tickets for these session on-site at the Information Desk as well as for later sessions at 7:45, 8:30, and 9:15 p.m.
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.