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 library, part natural history museum, and part activities room, 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 books, films, and other specimens, the opportunities to investigate and ask questions are endless. 

Walk in any time during open hours, or sign up for one of our special daily programs. Naturalist Center classes and workshops are brimming with new skills, new knowledge, and new ways of looking at 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.

Ask the Experts

Have a question about a backyard bug? Want to touch a dinosaur bone? Working on a school project? Our expert naturalists are happy to help answer questions, assist with specimen handling, and point visitors toward science resources. 

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

The Library

From classics like The Origin of Species to a quirky road-kill field guide, the Naturalist Center offers a comprehensive selection of curated books, magazines, and films on a wide range of natural science subjects.


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

Classes and Workshops

With classes, workshops, and drop-in discovery sessions running every day of the week, the Center never stops in its mission to help visitors of all ages become trained naturalists.  






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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.