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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.
What’s the science behind fireworks? When has space exploration made —or had—a big boom? Join us as we celebrate July 4th with rumbling, roaring thunder, the explosive potential of science demonstrations, space travel, and spectacular explorations of other booming activities and exhibits.
Please note: The Exploratorium is not in the viewing corridor for San Francisco’s Independence Day fireworks display. To ensure the best view, you may wish to congregate at Fisherman’s Wharf or Crissy Field.
The Big Bang
With Hakeem Oluseyi
7:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
If you love the flash and crash of Fourth-of-July fireworks, get a load of this: about 14 billion years ago, our dense, hot universe (such as it was) exploded, rapidly becoming much less dense and much less hot and providing the building blocks for everything we know, and many things we still don’t. Get a front-row seat for the Big Bang with astrophysicist Hakeem Oluseyi.
Full-Spectrum Science: Science of Fireworks
With Ron Hipschman
8:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
Come oooooh and ahhhh at the science behind these big booms! Where do fireworks come from? Who invented them? What causes their beautiful colors, and how do the bursting shells create such different patterns? Join us for some real illumination, and learn the difference between a jerb and a lance.
Fogo Na Roupa
8:30 p.m. | Roaming
Feel the boom: it’s always a celebration with San Francisco Brazilian dance and percussion company Fogo Na Roupa, and you can join them for a pulsing, resonant party featuring innovative rhythms and cultural dance.
Ping-Pong Ball Explosion
With Exploratorium Staff
9:00 p.m. | Gallery 4
Who needs outdoor fireworks when you can get an indoor explosion...of ping-pong balls? Come get an early dose of excitement and delight as we use liquid nitrogen to explode a 45-gallon trash can filled with 3,000 of your favorite bouncy table-sport balls. Cover your ears for the big boom, then enjoy the sprinkling sounds of excitement.
Think of any scenario. Using five words or less, describe it in a sentence. Now watch as artist PNosa interprets your words and uses a sewing machine to draw your idea on fabric. Embroidered patches will be available for purchase.
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.