An extravaganza celebrating
the art and science of color

July 1–September 5, 2011

Presentations & Demonstrations

Catch a kaleidoscope of activities, crafts, and presentations. Meet renowned Oaxacan artists, who will show each step of their traditional art—from making dye (using cochineal insects) to spinning and weaving. Explore the relationship between color and the Maya view of the cosmos. Dare to dye at our outdoor dyeing studio, dissect flowers, check out laser demos, and much more!

Ongoing Explainer Demonstrations:

Color and Chemistry
1:00, 2:00, & 3:00 p.m. in the Skylight area
See the colorful effects of hydrogen as acids and bases create a rainbow of reactions.

Cow’s Eye Dissection
Noon–4:00 p.m.* in Life Sciences
*On the hour
How is color perceived? What does it mean to be colorblind? Examine the eye and learn more about seeing color.

Flower Dissection
Noon–4:00 p.m.* in Life Sciences
*On the half hour
Analyze the reproductive anatomy of flowering plants, and find out why different pollinators are attracted to different colors.

Laser Demo
Ongoing: Noon–4:00 p.m. in Light & Optics
An ordinary light bulb emits light of many wavelengths, but not so a laser. Play around with single wavelengths of light.


Oaxacan Dyes & Textiles
Friday, July 1, through Sunday, July 10 (except Monday, July 4)
Noon–4:00 p.m.

Renowned Oaxacan artists Elena Gonzalez Ruiz, Fidel Cruz, and Maria Luisa Mendoza create vivid crimson caps and handmade rugs using dye made from cochineal insects. From making dye to spinning and weaving, they’ll show each step of their traditional art.

Do or Dye
Saturdays, July 2, August 6, and September 3
Noon to 4:00 p.m. in the front parking lot

Dare to dye? Get caught red-handed (or blue-handed) at our outdoor dyeing studio. Experiment with natural dyes and play around with tie-dye, henna, and other dyeing techniques.

How Physicists Make Color
Saturdays, July 2–September 3
1:00–2:00 p.m. in the McBean Theater

In this lively presentation, Ron Hipschman, Exploratorium staff physicist, will talk about many ways to make color—from neon signs to oil slicks to rainbows. You’ll learn all about light, how it’s made, and how it interacts. Ron will demonstrate many of the concepts, and you’ll take away materials that will allow you build your own spectroscope (an instrument that separates light into its component wavelengths). You’ll see color in a whole new light! Free with museum admission.

Maya Cosmology

The Color of Maya Cosmology
The Color of Maya Cosmology
Sunday, July 3, and Saturday, August 13
2:00 & 3:00 p.m. in the skylight area

Meet Exploratorium astronomer Dr. Isabel Hawkins and Maya Elder Maria Avila Vera and her family from Merida, Yucatán. Isabel and Maria will describe the relationship between color and the Maya view of the cosmos. Learn the Maya names for the cardinal directions and their associated colors and meanings, and why the color red has held special significance for thousands of years. Find out how the movements of the sun, the cycle of corn, and the Maya calendar are related and form the basis of the Maya worldview. You’ll also have a chance to ask these Maya cultural experts about their perspectives on the end of the Maya calendar and the year 2012. Free with museum admission. The Color of Maya Cosmology will be presented in Spanish upon request.

Pigments and Paints
Saturdays, July 16 & 23*, August 6 & 13, September 3
Noon–4:00 p.m.
*1:00–4:00 p.m. on July 23

Join Alex Warren, artist and founder of Sinopia Pigments and Materials, to explore the vivid origins of pigments and the variety of binders that are combined with pigments to make paints. You can even try your hand at grinding pigments. Custom pigment sets will be available for sale at the Exploratorium Store. Free with museum admission.

Sunday, August 28
Noon–4:00 p.m. in the skylight area and outside in the Rotunda

Meander through an open-air market of colorful wares made by local artisans and meet with artists, dyers, chemists, and other color connoisseurs to experience some practical—and aesthetically pleasing—applications of the visible spectrum. You can also try a rainbow of hands-on science activities. CALL FOR LOCAL ARTISTS: We invite you to participate!

Iron Science Teacher
Live webcast on June 25

Cheer on the competitors in this zany science cook-off, where teachers compete before a live audience in the Exploratorium webcast studio. Parodying the cult Japanese TV program “Iron Chef,” the Iron Science Teacher competition showcases science teachers as they devise activities using a “secret” ingredient—in this case, color. Iron Science Teacher activities are designed for the classroom, but many can be done at home as well. Watch on the Exploratorium TV website.

Also check out our Chromatic Cinema Series.