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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.
They say all the world’s a stage—and here, you can enter nature’s cabaret and encounter the high drama of nature. From mating dances to glorious bird songs, from horror stories of hunting and the elation of birth to the mysteries of perplexing landscapes, indulge in the artistry of the natural world’s everyday. Broaden your perspective with artworks that consider how we as humans view this natural world and shape it in our own image.
7:00 and 8:30 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Kanbar Forum
Program is included with General Admission; this ticket allows you to reserve a general admission seat at the selected performance.
Experience a nature documentary as you’ve never seen or heard one before. Presented as a series of live performances that take their cue from largely forgotten approaches to storytelling about nature, Nature’s Nickelodeons reinvents the heroes, villains, sounds, and spaces of nature broadcasts. Curated by Amy E. Culter, the performers leap from beatboxer to harpist to historic technology and to artificial intelligence. In their adaptations of old nature docs, they question the familiar anthropomorphic storylines and give new meaning to classic sounds and images.Performers include Amy E. Cutler, Marlo De Lara, Ashiya Eastwood, Ingrid Plum, and Jason Singh.
With the San Francisco Green Film Festival
6:00, 7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Microcinema
Contemplate the curious lives of the critters that we live amongst. In this collection of short films, you can observe the lives of tiny creatures—snails, insects, butterflies— and celebrate their unique biologies and behaviors. Collectively, the films also reveal the subtle ways in which these creatures can impact human lives—and the more overt ways in which humans can impact theirs.
Chiripajas · Olga Poliektova & Jaume Quiles · Russia · 2017 · 2 min.
Insect Guardian – Butterfly Paradise · Sander van Iersel & Tim Visser · Netherlands · 2018 · 6 min.
The Love Bugs · Allison Otto & Maria Clinton · USA · 2019 · 34 min.
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating · Elisabeth Tova Bailey · USA · 2019 · 15 min.
Photographing the Plankton of the Bay With Miranda
With Anna McGaraghan
7:30, 8:00, and 8:30 p.m. | Gallery 4 Demo Station
Meet Miranda, an Imaging FlowCytobot (IFCB) with eyes on the Bay below Pier 17 and the ability to transmit high-quality images to shore in real time. Using a combination of flow cytometrics and video technology, Miranda takes and photographs a small sample of seawater every 20 minutes, generating up to 30,000 images per hour, including clear views of the diatoms, and dinoflagellates, and zooplankton who populate the Bay. Join phytoplankton ecologist Anna McGaraghan for a demonstration of Miranda and the ways in which machine learning is being used to expand its classification capacities.
Full-Spectrum Science: Time
With Ron Hipschman
8:00 p.m. | Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6
Join Exploratorium scientist Ron Hipschman for colorful explorations of the physical world. You know what time is because of your daily experience, but what seems constant and unchanging is not. In 1905, Albert Einstein threw a monkey wrench in our perception of time and space. Join us as we examine a few of these quirks on a conceptual nonmathematical level. Yes, you can age slower than your twin!
With Ian Chaney
8:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Wattis Webcast Studio
A series of scientists (and, for good measure, a few nonscientists) travel to a plot of Maine land they have never seen before. One by one, through all four seasons, they walk the land and describe what they see. What unfolds is an unusual meditation upon the human relationship to the natural world and the power of different ways of seeing.
Observing Our Imprints Outdoor Screening
With Cinema Arts
9:00 p.m. | Gallery 5
How do the artifacts of human imposition manifest on landscapes? This outdoor screening—staged in a stunning locale nestled on a pier above the Bay with a view of the city gathers short poetic works that observe our landscapes and muse on the impact of built environments through generations and beyond anticipated consequences.
All Her Beautiful Green Remains in Tears (2018)
With Amy E. Cutler
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Math Cinema
Witness the power of reworking: crafted from re-edited footage from Walt Disney’s Nature’s Half Acre (1951), this piece trades sexist parables about domesticated postwar suburbia for an entirely different story of the “birds and the bees” of nature documentary: one of female desire, trauma, masochism, and emotional fantasy. The new voiceover focuses on romantic anthropomorphism, but has been generated by a neural network, using an A.I. that has learned entirely by reading the female protagonist voice in 14 million romance-novel passages. This piece has been created in collaboration with media artist Anna Ridler.
The San Francisco Green Film Festival at swissnex
6:00–10:00 p.m. | swissnex, Pier 17
*Please note: This program takes place at our neighbor, swissnex. Cross to their site through the gate located in Gallery 5, near the Distorted Room, then follow the signs. swissnex programming has limited capacity and is first-come, first-served. Please be sure to get a hand stamp before heading to swissnex.
Tonight, the SF Green Film Festival (September 24–29) takes over both Pier 15 and swissnex, our neighbors at Pier 17. Just a short walk from the Exploratorium’s Gallery 5, be sure to check out their packed evening of programming, including short films, the West Coast premiere of the immersive installation Walden, and a DJ.
swissnex Gallery at Pier 17 Schedule
6:00 p.m.: Opening remarks followed by The Flood is Coming: Swiss Shorts
7:00 p.m.: Walden, by Daniel Zimmermann
Constructed through 13 360-degree shots, Walden is a meditative and subtle comment on the absurdity of the economic rationale that underlies our globalised world. Presented on several screens, Walden follows the trajectory of a fir tree that is felled and processed into planks of wood in Austria. Then, by train, truck, boat, and finally by hand, the stack is transported to a mysterious destination right in the heart of the Brazilian rainforest.
9:00 p.m.: DJ
In addition, check out several shorts running continuously on small screens from 6–10 p.m.
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.