April 4th, 1853
The California Academy of Natural Sciences is founded.
The renamed California Academy of Sciences is located at Grant Avenue and California Streets.
1891 - 1906
With a bequest from James Lick, a six-story stone building is built for the Academy on Market Street.
Seven scientists sail for the Galapagos in 1905 aboard the Schooner Academy. They bring back what becomes the core of the Academy's collections.
When the Great Quake strikes, Alice Eastwood, Academy Botanist, rescues a cart containing 2,000 specimens - the only pieces of the collection to survive.
The California Academy of Sciences' blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) is presented to the Academy in 1915.
In 1910, San Francisco citizens vote to authorize a move to Golden Gate Park. The new Academy opens to the public in September, 1916.
The Steinhart Aquarium, the Academy’s second building, is dedicated in September, 1923. Bequeathed by Ignatz Steinhart, the aquarium was designed by Lewis P. Hobart.
Simson African Hall, dedicated December 3, 1934, opens after a decade of preparation and field work in Africa by Frank Tose.
“Methuselah” the lungfish (Neoceratodus forsteri) comes to the Academy. He is the oldest fish in the Steinhart Aquarium and may live up to 100 years.
During World War II, an optical shop was set up in the Academy to grind and polish lenses and to rebuild binoculars and telescopes for the U.S. Navy.
Dedicated in February, 1951, Science Hall is added to Simson African Hall and the Steinhart Aquarium.
With the staff and expertise gained from its World War II optical shop, the Academy build the Morrison Planetarium Star Projector and Foucault Pendulum.
Monarch the grizzly bear, captured alive in 1889, is transferred to the Academy in 1953, where he is used as the model for the new California state flag.
The California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.
By 1963, The Swamp contains animals American alligators and alligator snapping turtles.
The Fish Roundabout opens in 1977. This toroidal, or doughnut shaped, tank is the first of its kind in the United States.
This gallery was created following an exhibition of Gary Larsen’s Far Side cartoons which were inspired by his research at the Academy.
In 1992, the Herbst Portico was added. Its large glass entry doors are on the left, and the admissions and security desks are to the right.
The Academy’s Tyrannosaurus rex is assembled in the Academy Courtyard in 1993. It is used to explain the science behind Jurassic Park.
The Academy closes due to structural damage from the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake.
The Academy resides in its temporary location at 875 Howard Street. It remains open to the public.
Construction of the new Academy begins in Golden Gate Park.
September 27, 2008
The California Academy of Science reopens. Designed by Architect Renzo Piano, it is the greenest museum in the world.
On an evening in 1853—just three years after California joined the United States—seven men assembled in a candle-lit room in San Francisco and founded the first scientific academy west of the Atlantic seaboard.
The California Academy of Sciences soon became one of the west's most popular destinations, drawing 80,000 visitors annually to gaze at its giant wooly mammoth, lifelike grizzly bears, native plant specimens and rare artifacts.
But when the Great Quake of 1906 struck the city, the Academy's home and all but a handful of specimens were lost. It would not be the last time that nature exacted a price from those who sought to study, protect and preserve it.
In 1916, the Academy found a new home, the North American Hall in Golden Gate Park, where it grew over the decades to include Steinhart Aquarium, Simson African Hall, Science Hall, the Morrison Planetarium and more.
Then, in 1989, nature again took its toll in the form of the Loma Prieta earthquake. Major structural damage left the Academy in need of another beginning.
The Academy took advantage of this rare opportunity to rethink the Academy and the entire museum-going experience. The new vision: To create an institution for the 21st century - a premier destination of grand design, and one that would bring the latest in scientific research to the public in the most engaging, educational and inspiring way imaginable.
For more details on the history of the Academy, scroll through the timeline of images above.