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After Dark: Under the Microscope

Three smiling visitors examining their faces using a microscope
After Dark: Under the Microscope

From amoeba to plankton, discover the microscopic creatures around us at the Exploratorium After Dark. Take a close look at living things of all sizes using scientific tools, observe the ecosystems they inhabit, and learn about their different stages of development. 

Center for Cellular Construction Showcase
6:30–9:30 p.m.
Come check out creative, topical, and surprising demonstrations from members of the Center for Cellular Construction in Galleries 3, 4, and 6! 
  • Accelerate with AI (7:00 p.m.) with María Díaz de León Derby and Amanda Meriwether, moderated by Kristina Yu, PhD
  • Music for Microbes with Deepa Rajan
  • Slime Mold: Unconventional Intelligence with Peter Chudinov
  • Cellular Surgery with Daniel Knapp and Ramon Rodriguez
  • AlgoRave: Microscopic Dance Party (8:30 p.m.) with Gav Sturm and Shivani Pandey
  • Mobile Microscopy with Amanda Meriwether, María Díaz de León Derby, Joana Cabrera, and Kira Buttrey
  • Invisible Invaders: Microplastics with Ben Mingoa and Archana Anand, PhD
  • Coastal Seaweed and Climate Change with Joe Ramahi, John Gonzales, Melissa Hassmer, Roman Marquez, Robin Rojas and Keiko Hokeness

These materials are based upon work supported by the Center for Cellular Construction, which is a Science and Technology Center funded by the National Science Foundation.

Center for Cellular Construction logo
The NSF logo, which shows a globe representing the Earth surrounded by a golden gear-shaped frame.
Marvelous Microbes
8:00 p.m.
Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery 6
With Shannon Behrman, Elliot Kirschner, Denise King, and Jennifer Frazier, PhD

Living things that are too small to see define our lives and life on our planet. Join us for two short films exploring the marvelous world of microbes, from their role in Indigenous stewardship to fighting antibiotic resistance. The films will be followed by a panel discussion on how we can explore the unseen through storytelling and exhibits with filmmakers Shannon Behrman and Elliot Kirschner, Exploratorium exhibit designer Denise King, and Jennifer Frazier, PhD.

Shannon Behrman leads the education initiative at the Science Communication Lab. She collaborates with educators and the SCL team to produce, test, and distribute short science films that engage students in learning.

Elliot Kirschner is the Executive Producer at the Science Communication Lab. Elliot is a New York Times bestselling author and Emmy award–winning news and documentary producer. Elliot has produced many feature-length films and documentary shorts focusing on science, including Human Nature and The Most Unknown. He also publishes a newsletter called Through the Fog on Substack.

Denise King is the Director of Exhibit Development at the Exploratorium. In her role, she promotes curiosity, humility, and rigor in exhibit development by leveraging her strengths in concept development, prototyping, and interface design. Before joining the Exploratorium, she worked as a field biologist.

Jennifer Frazier, PhD directs strategic initiatives at the Science Communication Lab and is an adjunct professor at the University of California at San Francisco. She was a curator at the Exploratorium for 18 years, where she co-led the museum’s program in biological sciences. Jennifer studied bioethics at UC Davis and holds a PhD in cell biology from the UCSF.

San Francisco Microscopical Society
6:00–8:00 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3

Plankton are enchanting and sometimes monstrous. Come observe them under the microscope, and watch captivating live images projected onto the big screen. You can even experiment with fluorescence using specialized microscopes provided by Merritt College’s microscopy program.

Janai Southworth is president of the San Francisco Microscopical Society. When she's not exploring the enchanting world of plankton, she's skillfully capturing their charisma with her camera and microscope. She also donates her free time to the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary supporting marine science education around the Bay.

Ecological Exhibits: Prototype Demonstration
6:30–9:30 p.m.
Gallery 2: Tinkering

Explore your relationship with nature, the environment, and each other through exhibit prototypes.

Flower Dissection
6:30–9:30 p.m.
Bechtel Gallery 3

Flowers are key to some plants’ reproductive processes. Join the Explainers to dissect flowers under a microscope and learn about pollination.

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