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$10 Members; Free for Lab Members
$10 Add-On Ticket for the Tactile Dome Available for Purchase Onsite
Adults Only (18+)
Note: Some programs have limited seating and will be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.
Fisher Bay Observatory Gallery
I sit in my chair
And filled with despair
There's no one could be so sad
With gloom everywhere
I sit and I stare
I know that I'll soon go mad
In my solitude
—Billie Holiday, "(In My) Solitude"
Ashker v. Governor of California was a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of prisoners held in the Security Housing Unit (SHU) at California’s Pelican Bay State Prison who had spent a decade or more in solitary confinement. According to the Center for Constitutional Rights, SHU prisoners spent between 22½ to 24 hours every day in a cramped, concrete, windowless cell. They were denied telephone calls, contact visits, and vocational, recreational, or educational programming. Hundreds of Pelican Bay prisoners had been isolated under these conditions for over 10 years and dozens for more than 20 years.
The named plaintiffs in Ashker included leaders and participants in prison hunger strikes that were joined by thousands of SHU prisoners throughout California in 2011 and 2013. The case reached settlement on September 1, 2015, ending indeterminate solitary confinement in California and dramatically reducing the number of people kept in isolation.
A turning point in this litigation proved to be the introduction of neuroscientific evidence demonstrating that long-term isolation caused significant, detrimental impacts to prisoners’ brains. Meet some of the attorneys and neuroscientists involved to explore the use and impact of neuroscience in this case, which resulted in a massive policy change in California’s prison system.
Craig Haney, J.D., Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. His research concerns the application of social psychological principles and data to various legal and civil rights issues. Professor Haney has specialized in the assessment of institutional environments, especially the psychological effects of incarceration. He has also worked on the way in which attitudes and beliefs about crime and punishment are changed by legal procedures, as well as the role such attitudes and beliefs play in influencing legal fairness and impartiality.
Jules Lobel, J.D. is the Bessie McKee Walthour Endowed Chair at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He coauthored the award-winning book Less Safe, Less Free: Why America Is Losing the War on Terror (2007) and is the author of Success without Victory: Lost Legal Battles and the Long Road to Justice in America (2003), as well as editor of several books on civil rights litigation and the U.S. Constitution. Professor Lobel has often testified before congressional committees and is President of the Center for Constitutional Rights, a national human and constitutional rights organization based in New York City.
Dr. Robert King is a prison reform activist and the first of the Angola 3 to win his freedom after serving 29 years in solitary confinement in Louisiana. Along with the other Angola 3 prisoners—Herman Wallace and Albert Woodfox—he was a member of the Black Panther Party in Angola, LA., one of the only official prison chapters in the country. In the 15 years since his release in February of 2001, King’s life focus has been to campaign against myriad abuses in the U.S. criminal justice system and the cruel and unusual use of solitary confinement, and to fight for the freedom of Wallace, who passed away one week after his release in 2013, and Woodfox, who was released in February 2016.
Brie Williams, M.D. is Professor of Medicine in the University of California, San Francisco Division of Geriatrics, Founding Director of the University of California Criminal Justice & Health Consortium, and Director of the Criminal Justice and Health Project at UCSF. Dr. Williams works with collaborators from the criminal justice, public safety, and legal fields to transform criminal justice healthcare through policy-driven research and education. She has served as an expert witness in several lawsuits related to the health effects of solitary confinement.
Michael Zigmond, Ph.D. is Professor of Neurology at the University of Pittsburgh. He is recognized for his contributions to understanding the factors that influence neurodegenerative disease and for his service to academia, including his promotion of professional development and ethics training. Professor Zigmond directs a research team studying Parkinson’s disease. His current research focus is the impact of the lack of physical exercise among most adults, which he believes causes a decrease in neuroprotective factors within the brain.
David L. Faigman is the Chancellor and Dean, and the John F. Digardi Distinguished Professor of Law, at the University of California Hastings College of the Law. He is the author of numerous articles and books, including two books written for a general audience: Laboratory of Justice: The Supreme Court’s 200-Year Struggle to Integrate Science and the Law (2004) and Legal Alchemy: The Use and Misuse of Science in the Law (1999). Professor Faigman has been widely cited by scholars and courts, including several times by the United States Supreme Court. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences panel that investigated the scientific validity of polygraphs and is a member of the MacArthur Law and Neuroscience Network.
Learn more about the series, In the Balance: Bringing Science to Justice.
Join us for an evening of transmuted cinema, where images break through the traditional rectangular screen and emerge as unexpected and amorphous shapes. Working since the late 1960s, Barbara Hammer’s career has been marked by experimentation, intellectual rigor, and a commitment to testing boundaries.
Tonight, Hammer will present two works of expanded cinema that reconsider exactly where film images belong. With Changing the Shape of Film, a 12-foot weather balloon becomes the screen for Hammer’s own films, forcing the audience to find new perspectives, and seating arrangements. In Available Space, a 16mm projector is mobilized and the architecture of the space becomes the screen. In this work, the viewer is also mobilized and forced into continuous physical motion to view it.
Presented in conjunction with Canyon Cinema 50, this event is the first in a yearlong series of programming in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Canyon Cinema’s incorporation. In the tradition of Canyon’s monthly Canyon Cinema Salon series, Hammer’s performances will be followed by an intimate conversation.
Barbara Hammer was born on May 15, 1939, in Hollywood, California. She is a visual artist working primarily in film and video. She has made over 80 moving image works in a career that spans 40 years. She is considered a pioneer of queer cinema and has worked in documentary, experimental cinema, performance, and installation. She has received numerous honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship and retrospectives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Tate Modern in London, and the Toronto International Film Festival. Her work has shown at countless national and international venues. In addition to her moving image work, she is the author of Hammer! Making Movies Out of Sex and Life. She teaches each summer at The European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
Phyllis C. Wattis Webcast Studio
Come be in your elements with Exploratorium host and scientific raconteur Ron Hipschman. Follow tales of intrigue and invention, join in dynamic demonstrations, and uncover fascinating connections between individual elements and our collective human experience.
Learn more about the series, Everything Matters: Tales from the Periodic Table.
Get a taste of potassium with potato-avocado croquettes prepared by SeaGlass sous-chef Nate Campbell and discover the essential element’s starring role in cell biology, farming, food, and fireworks.
Soft, silvery potassium is a highly reactive alkali metal that darkens on contact with air and explodes in water, releasing hydrogen gas in a burst of purple flames. Created in supernovae, potassium is naturally found only in compounds and is the seventh most abundant element in the Earth’s crust. It’s an essential nutrient for animals and plants and is found in all cells, assisting in a panoply of processes from fluid balance to protein synthesis. In 1807, Humphry Davy used electrolysis to isolate the element from caustic potash. While Davy named his discovery after potash, Berzelius preferred kalium (Latin, alkali, fr. Arabic, al-qalī, saltwort ashes) and gave it the chemical symbol K.
Originally derived from plant ashes, potash includes a range of potassium compounds used to bleach textiles and make soap, glass, gunpowder, and pharmaceuticals. Potash is now primarily mined to produce fertilizers for replenishing soil depleted by intensive farming of potassium-rich foods.
Bernard and Barbro Osher West Gallery
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
Bernard and Barbro Osher West Gallery
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 Central Gallery
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.
Bernard and Barbro Osher West Gallery
Everything is not as it seems—at first. Pick a card, any card, and watch the Explainers reveal some surprising aspects of human perception.