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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.
Craving some deliciously inspired science? Get a taste for these controversial but always sweet carbohydrates at Pairings and partake in a tempting array of sugar-inspired presentations and activities.
With Kevin Godes, Julie Yu, and Clay Reynolds
7:00 p.m. | Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6
Please note: Seating and tastings for Pairings are limited to 120 ticketed guests. Pick up your free ticket in the Observatory.
Sure, sugar is a versatile sweetener, and we eat a lot of it—but that's not the end of the story of how it affects our food and our bodies. Join chef Kevin Godes for a demonstration of how sugar—and the famous Maillard chemical reaction that often comes with it—contributes to delicious food. Learn about different natural sugars and their alternatives with Exploratorium scientist Julie Yu. Then take a dive into the original Cuban daiquiri cocktail—not to be confused with its frozen cousin—and the rise of the tiki bar with house mixologist Clay Reynolds. Also, sample Japanese onigiri, or rice balls, with a series of sauces showing off the complex flavors of sugar, and refresh yourself with a classic daiquiri.
Sugar and Sulfuric Acid Demo
With Zeke Kossover
7:00 and 8:00 p.m. | Gallery 5
From melting into a bubbling caramel to sending out sparks when you bite it, the mild-mannered sugar in your kitchen cupboard hides some wild-child behaviors, especially when it comes in contact with other substances. Join Exploratorium educator Zeke Kossover to experience the dramatic meeting between sugar and sulfuric acid.
With Dr. Laura Schmidt
8:30 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Webcast Studio
Humans have evolved to enjoy the sweet taste of sugar—the average American eats 66 pounds of "added" sugar each year, in addition to what's naturally in our food—but that doesn't mean it's good for us. How much is too much, how can we make choices that are better for our bodies, and what's the role of corporations and policymakers in helping us do that? Join Laura Schmidt of the UCSF School of Medicine for straight talk about sugar and its effects on our individual and collective health.
With Symmetry Labs
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1, Black Box
Absorb the perception-altering kinetic light of Symmetry Labs' mesmeric Sugar Cubes. Exploring the concept of light as an instrument, Sugar Cubes are building blocks for immersive, scalable 3D visual environments. Driven by custom hardware and software, the LEDs in each cube are individually 3D-modeled and -mapped, creating an enveloping light canvas driven by algorithms generated in real time.
With Cinema Arts
6:00–10:00 p.m. | Osher Gallery 1
Satiate your sight with these scrumptious cinematic delights. Featuring archival films spanning decades, savor films that showcase the sweet glory of sugar as it’s formed, nibbled, and made into art.
With Chef Jean-Yves Duperret
6:30–8:00 p.m. | Bechtel Gallery 3, Webcast Studio
The ancient folk art of andy sculpting, or amezaiku, originated in China and has been practiced in Japan for over a thousand years—but today it’s a dying art, performed by only a few master artists. Watch one of them, French pastry chef Jean Yves Duperret, use heat to sculpt and carve sugar into elaborate works of art before your eyes.
Sweet as Honey
With City Bees
6:30–9:30 p.m. | Gallery 4
Taste and consider honey from every corner of San Francisco—the Mission District’s light, floral sweetness comes from blooms that flourish in the city’s balmy banana belt, for example, while the Presidio’s rich caramel and coffee notes take after the native manzanitas and wild sages that trail down to the coast. Embrace the complex blending of glucose and fructose that brings nuanced flavor to this ancient sweetener, and get to know the flavors of the city.
Candy Up Close
With Denise King and Alex Pinigis
7:00–9:00 p.m. | Gallery 4 Bio Bar
Sugar comes to us in many forms, from crystals to ribbons to truffles to jellies. What’s really going on inside all these sweets, and how do their structures relate to flavor and texture? Look at a range of candies under an electron microscope with Exploratorium exhibit developer Denise King and biologist Alex Pinigis and find out.
7:00–10:00 p.m. | Gallery 4
Ever tasted play dough? Then you know it’s a salty substance—but you may not know that salt makes it a good conductor of electricity. Made with sugar instead of salt, the dough becomes resistive, and the two can be combined to build circuits and power all kinds of objects. Use homemade dough of both kinds to produce electronic sculptures that move, light up, and make sounds. All materials provided; take what you make.
Osher Gallery 1
Take an excursion through total darkness in our Tactile Dome. Crawl, slide, and bump your way through the pitch-dark Dome using your sense of touch as your only guide through its chambers and mazes.
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.
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.
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.