Don't just look at specimens—go behind the glass and handle them in our Naturalist Center, the Academy's home to hands-on exploration. Whether you're 9 or 90, curiosity is always welcome.

Part natural history museum and part dynamic activity space, the Wilson Family Naturalist Center is packed with resources to explore. From a foot-long mammoth tooth (discovered at a construction site right here in San Francisco) to a variety of books and hands-on activities, the opportunities to investigate and ask questions are endless.

Come in any time during open hours and discover the splendor of the natural world.


A small human skulls on a shelf in the Naturalist Center.

Hands-on Exploration

A wolverine's soft pelt, a false trumpet's spiraling shell, and so much more—hundreds of specimens pack the shelves of the Naturalist Center, ready to be investigated.

An Academy naturalist talks to a visitor about a specimen.


Feeling inspired to dive more deeply? Want to touch a skull? Our educators are eager to assist with specimen handling, point visitors toward science resources, and inspire further curiosity.

Books on a wide range of natural science subjects are available.

Discover it Yourself

From classics like The Origin of Species to a quirky roadkill field guide, the Naturalist Center offers a selection of books, magazines, and guides to fuel your curiosity and help you find answers to your California biodiversity questions.


An Academy naturalist works with a young visitor to identify a butterfly.

Activities and More

With activities and drop-in discovery sessions running every day of the week, the Center never stops in its mission to help visitors of all ages connect to the natural world.





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Naturalist Center Location

Naturalist Center Location

The Naturalist Center is located on the third floor of the Academy—simply take the main stairs or elevators (located near our Café) and follow the aerial walkway.