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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.
How are you shaped by the genes you’re born with, and by your environment? How do your body's trillions of cells work together to create a human self? At our brand-new exhibit collection, Cells to Self, you can use microscopes, digital models, and firsthand interactions with cells to explore how cells move, divide, communicate, and respond to their surroundings—from the environmental awareness of bacteria to human heart cells beating in response to electricity. Come get a closer look and see what you’re made of. *
Extreme Cell Biology
With Wallace Marshall
7:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
You may have learned in science class that cells are small, simple building blocks for organisms, piled together by the billions to make even the simplest biological processes happen. Prepare to have your cellular understanding turned upside down: cells come in a vast range of sizes and degrees of complexity. They can walk, hunt, solve mazes, and do other complicated tasks. Change your perspective on what a cell can be and do with UCSF cell biologist Wallace Marshall from the Center for Cellular Construction.
Programming the Cellular Machine
With the Lim Lab
8:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
Every cell in your body is a living microscopic machine, capable of performing complex functions. And just like any other machine, a cell can be programmed. Get to know the design rules of cellular networks and find out how scientists can apply them, engineering cells that perform novel and useful functions—like seeking out and destroying cancers. Come hear UCSF Professor Wendell Lim discuss how we can engineer these smart and incredibly precise cellular machines to treat human diseases.
You vs. Flu
With the National Center for Science Education
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3 Classrooms
In an interactive game of you vs. flu, who wins? Team up with the National Center for Science Education in a race against time: solve an epidemiological mystery and prevent a flu pandemic. “Visit” five different countries, work collaboratively to solve clues and identify the source of the outbreak, and go into the lab to build an effective vaccine before pandemic sets in.
Programming the Body, Cell by Cell
With the Lim Lab
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Gallery 4
Your body is made up of living, microscopic machines, capable of performing a huge array of complex functions—they’re called cells. Your cells can be programmed, just like any other machine, and scientists at the Lim Lab at UCSF are learning to engineer cells that perform tasks like seeking out and destroying cancers. Visit some members of the lab on our floor and try your hand at reprogramming the immune cells that discriminate between cancer cells and your own.
Take a Cellfie
With Exploratorium Staff
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Gallery 4 Bio Bar
Get ready for the ultimate close-up and take a photo of yourself with your very own cells. Learn about the tiny building blocks that make up your body by viewing your own cheek cells under a microscope. Then take your own “cell-fie” and double-expose your face with an image of your cells, showing off what you look like at two vastly different magnifications.
Microbial Cellulose Clothing
With Okada Design
7:00–9:00 p.m. | Gallery 2, Tinkering Studio
Get ready to design the future of biology-based fashion and fabrication: combining visitor silhouettes from the Shadow Box and bacterial cellulose—a biomaterial also known as kombucha leather—you can create the fashion plates of your dreams. Then get into the means of production: learn about the process of growing kombucha leather and the possibilities for design and biofabrication with microbes.
7:00–10:00 p.m. | Gallery 4
Make your own portable, durable origami microscope—Foldscope kit microscopes provide optical quality similar to conventional research microscopes (magnification of 140X and 2-micron resolution) without the weight or the cost. Explore plankton and other ocean organisms, make some cool drawings from your observations, and take it with you to continue exploring at home.
7:00 and 8:00 p.m.
Gallery 4: Meet at the Explainer station in the Living Systems area (near the flower dissections) with your member card for entry.
Celebrate our new collection of exhibits, Cells to Self, with a behind-the-scenes look at our Living Systems Laboratory. Get a tour from our lab tech team members, and learn about what goes into creating and maintaining our interactive biology exhibits, including the exhibits in Cells to Self, on a guided tour of the Living Systems gallery. These exclusive members-only tours are your chance to see what’s going on behind our lab’s closed doors, including freshwater and marine aquarium systems, tropical plant rooms, insect colonies (like termites and fruit flies), microbe cultures, and the autoclave.
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.