Skip to main content

After Dark: Sexplorations

A side view of the reproductive parts of a yellow flower with green leaves
After Dark: Sexplorations

Looking for a hot night out on the town? Slip into something comfortable and take an intimate look at sex—you know, the transfer of genetic information through sperm and eggs, which has resulted in evolution and specialization among species over time. From the lengths we’ll go to for sex to the mating rituals of insects to the naughty bits of flowers, learn about the varied and creative ways in which the natural world gets it on. 
    

Live Sex Show: Sea Urchin Egg Fertilization
7:30 p.m.
Kanbar Forum
With Claire Anderson and Michael Brito

Do you like to watch? Sea urchin sperm and eggs are the same size and shape as those of humans, and it only takes an instant for the sperm to fertilize the egg. Which will be the lucky sperm? Find out as Exploratorium staff biologists Claire Anderson and Michael Brito fertilize a sea urchin egg before your very eyes.

Claire Anderson holds a degree in biology from UC Santa Barbara. At the Exploratorium, she loves doing maintenance on saltwater tanks and charting zebrafish pedigrees.

Michael Brito is a part of the team that cares for the living organisms in Gallery 4. He's particularly fascinated by ocean-dwelling invertebrates, especially how they get busy with reproduction.

Pussification of Biotech
8:00 p.m.
Kanbar Forum
With Jiabao Li

The human clitoris is central to our sexual experience, but it has long been overlooked or misinterpreted by male-dominated perspectives. Hear from artist Jiabao Li as she talks about her work in advocating for a more feminist and nonbinary methodology in both arts and sciences, including astounding new discoveries in animal clitoris and her novel lab-grown clitoris!

Jiabao Li's work addresses climate change, interspecies world sharing, humane technology, and a just, sustainable future. She is an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin, where her lab explores the intersection of art, design, technology, and biology.

Intimate Entomology
8:30 p.m.
Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6
With Ralph Washington Jr.

Sit down with expert entomologist Ralph Washington Jr. as he shares jaw-dropping (and sometimes head-popping) tales of insect sex. Be a voyeur into the bizarre mating habits of bugs—you may be surprised that human and insect sex lives are more alike than you thought!

Ralph Washington, Jr. has an MA in entomology and is a three-time national and international champion of entomological natural history trivia. One of his favorite lessons from studying the lives of small creatures is the reminder that although life can often be hard, at least he isn’t a termite getting paralyzed by a toxic fart.

An Egg-cellent Display: Fish Embryos, Larvae, and Fry
6:30–7:30 p.m., 8:00–9:30 p.m.
With the Living Systems Lab

Did you know that the Exploratorium is home to three generations of fancy goldfish and a long-standing zebrafish breeding program? Come say hi to fancy goldfish ranging from fry to adults, use a microscope to observe embryonic and larval zebrafish, and chat with our biologists about fish behavior, life history, and husbandry. Don’t forget to guess the correct sex ratio of the zebrafish on display for a fun prize!

Sonia Castillo is a senior lab technician in the Living Systems Gallery, where she has overseen the sex life of the Exploratorium's zebrafish colony for the past six years. You'll often find her working in an aquarium near you. 

Lindsay Harris is a senior lab technician at the Exploratorium. She has a master of science degree in biology from Florida Atlantic University, where she studied the electrosensory system in Amazonian stingrays. 

Sentient Clit
6:30–9:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3
Art installation by Jiabao Li

Peruse a gallery of sculptural clitorises grown out of human tissue. In “Sentient Clit: the Pussification of Biotech,” Jiabao and her collaborator WhiteFeather investigate the potential of lab-grown clitorises created by 3-D bioprinting stem cells derived from menstrual fluid. Growing on 3-D, bioprinted clitoris structures, the living clitorises can “feel” and “think,” raising questions about sentiency, consent, and the ethics of sex. 

Jiabao Li's work addresses climate change, interspecies world sharing, humane technology, and a just, sustainable future. She is an assistant professor at The University of Texas at Austin, where her lab explores the intersection of art, design, technology, and biology.

Adult Swim: Bull Sperm Demo
6:30–9:30 p.m.
Gordon and Betty Moore Gallery 4: Living Systems
With Dr. Bonnie EJ Maven

Dive into this demo on sperm motility, as modeled by donated swimmers from local bovine. Scientist Dr. Bonnie EJ Maven will act as your lifeguard and coach, showing how sperm speed and behavior can be influenced through chemical interventions.

Dr. Bonnie EJ Maven grew up on a farm in Texas caring for cattle before pursuing her biology degree from The University of Texas at Austin. She came to the Bay Area to earn her PhD from UCSF and now develops accessible fertility solutions through her startup Vertility Health.

Va Va Va Voom: Vintage Vibrators & Ask the Sexologist
6:30–9:30 p.m.
Gallery 2: Tinkering
With Dr. Carol Queen

Learn the history of making people feel good and check out an array of vintage vibrators and massagers. Sex expert Dr. Carol Queen will join us to answer your burning questions about sex and perhaps more importantly, pleasure.

Dr. Carol Queen is a writer, speaker, educator, and activist with a doctorate in sexology.

The Bouquet Between Your Legs: Flower Dissections
6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3
With the Explainers

Flowers are key to some plants’ reproductive processes—and some of their reproductive structures bear a striking resemblance to our own. Strip flowers to their naughty bits and discover the similarities, and learn about pollination along the way.

Gonad A-Go-Go
7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3
With the Explainers

Take an inside look at bull testicles, pig ovaries, or other impressively sized animal organs to track the paths of sperm and egg from genesis to union.

Love Nest
6:00–10:00 p.m.
Gordon and Betty Moore Gallery 4: Living Systems

Milkweed bugs can get it on for hours on end, literally; they mate by sticking their back ends together. Scientists think their stamina stems from competition: a male doesn’t want another bug’s sperm to outdo its own. Come check out our milkweed bugs’ love nest and see how it’s done, so to speak.

Endangered Species Condoms
6:30–9:30 p.m.
Osher Gallery 1: Human Phenomenon
With the Center for Biological Diversity

For the sake of the horned lizard . . . slow down, love wizard. Wrapped in colorful, wildlife-themed packages, endangered species condoms offer a fun, unique way to discuss the link between human population growth and the species extinction crisis.

At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature. Through science, law, and creative media, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. 

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