The Exploratorium’s New Exhibition Feels Like A Ride On The Magic School Bus

Ashlyn Davis Ashlyn Davis

neon cancer cells in blackness

Here’s what to expect from the fascinating new Cells To Self exhibition.

What role do cells play in our identity? What would different iterations of our genes look like? What do immortal cells look like? And do we even want them? While there are no dazzling light displays or infinity mirrors, The Exploratorium’s new permanent exhibition, Cells to Self, feels like stepping aboard The Magic School Bus and driving straight into the heart of all living organisms. So hop aboard and find out what this genetic odyssey has in store for you…

1. Probably Chelsea


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Una publicación compartida de Ollie Ongpin (@ollieoo) el

Ever wonder what your genes would look like if they didn’t look like you? Well, artist, Heather Dewey-Hagborg has and she’s tested it out on Chelsea Manning. 20 times. The result? A collection of sculptures that demonstrate just how close you were to looking like Beyoncé until your DNA decided to look like you instead. 

2. Within 15 Minutes


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Una publicación compartida de Humble Arts Foundation (@humbleartsfoundation) el

These puzzling jigsaw portraits of identical twins feature interchangeable pieces that make for creepy but creative depictions. Alma Haser created the puzzles by photographing identical twins and switching up the pieces half and half. The exercise illustrates how improbable it is to land up with two indistinguishable expressions of the same gene, while simultaneously highlighting the unique identity of each twin. It definitely beats doing a 1000-piece set of a house on a prairie. 

3. Are You Your Cells?


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Una publicación compartida de Cell Biology at MilliporeSigma (@cellbiology_milliporesigma) el

Take a closer look at “immortality”! In this section, science catches up with fiction as you watch HeLa cells, the first line of immortal cells, divide with no signs of ever stopping. The cells were taken from Henrietta Lacks, a deceased 1950s cancer patient, who lives on in the Petri dishes of labs around the world. Or does she? While HeLa cells have helped further research and aided the development of vaccines, it’s also a great way to trigger those nagging existential questions. 

4. Give Heart Cells A Beat


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Una publicación compartida de Sam Reisman (@breakfast_brain) el

No, it’s not a first aid class but it will still get your heart racing once you grab hold of the heart rate sensor and allow these heart cells to synchronize with your cardiac contractions. Think of them as minions with a Sci-Fi makeover.

5. Microscope Imaging Station


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Una publicación compartida de close up (@microscopeimaging) el

Apparently all you need is a research-grade microscope for things to start looking like a scene from Interstellar. This Microscope Imaging Station allows you to step inside living, changing cells and explore a parallel world without leaving the room.

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