Step inside a lush, four-story rainforest that's teeming with life—from free-flying birds to exotic reptiles, amphibians, golden silk orb-weaver spiders, and enormous Amazonian fish that glide overhead.

Inside the dome, a magnificent neotropical rainforest stretches 90 feet above. Following the spiral path up through the sphere, you'll encounter three levels of rainforest from three distinct ecosystems: a Bornean forest floor, a Madagascan mid-story, and the canopy of a Costa Rican forest.

From the canopy, plunge (via elevator) four stories down for a beneath-the-surface view of an Amazonian flooded forest. At each stage of the journey, you'll come face-to-face with some of the incredible animals that call these forests home.

Photo: Kat Whitney

Spring Butterflies

Watch the life cycle of tropical butterflies and moths unfold before your eyes. In our new butterfly emergence chamber on the top floor of the rainforest, you'll see shiny chrysalises and structurally impressive cocoons alongside butterflies stretching their newly formed wings. 

An image of the exterior of the dome, reflecting the many round windows in the living roof above.

About the Dome

Housed within a spectacular 90-foot-diameter glass dome, our rainforest exhibit is the largest of its kind in the world. With temperatures of 82–85 degrees and humidity at 75 percent or above, it will instantly transport you to some of the most biodiverse places on Earth.

New butterflies emerge in the rainforest

Special Spring Programs

We’re hatching some exciting things this spring–literally! From dozens of newly emerged butterflies in our updated rainforest exhibit to an artful array of hands-on, family friendly activities, spring is in full swing at the Academy from March 17 through April 23.

A lizard rests atop a large leaf in the Osher Rainforest.

Tropical Flora

The rainforest's living plants include trees like the Brazilian beauty leaf and West Indies mahogany, dozens of shrubs—including Theobroma cacao, the plant from which chocolate is made—and hundreds of flowering plants, from begonias and philodendrons to orchids and bromeliads.

A brilliant blue Morpho butterfly rests on a railing inside the Osher Rainforest.

Animals of the Rainforest

More than 1,600 live animals reside in our rainforest dome, including 250 free-flying birds and butterflies and close to 100 exotic reptiles and amphibians. From the bright flashes of blue morpho butterflies to the jewel-like colors of poison-dart frogs, you'll see fauna at its most dazzling.

A view from the flooded forest tunnel of arapaima and other large fish swimming overhead.

The Flooded Forest

Surround yourself with hundreds of tropical, freshwater fish by taking the flooded forest tunnel, a transparent passage that plunges right through our 100,000-gallon Amazonian tank. See cichlids dart through the roots of a mangrove cluster while giant arapaima soar overhead.

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Become a Member

Experience the wonder all year round with daily, unlimited admission, and exclusive benefits like members-only hours, expedited entry, and exhibit previews.

Butterfly illustration

Rainforest Hours

Rainforest Hours

Rainforests of the World opens at 10 am each day—slightly later than the rest of the museum, which allows biologists time to check up on its many residents. 

On Thursday nights during NightLife, the exhibit closes at 7:45 pm.

Meg Lowman RR item

Into the Canopy

Dr. Meg Lowman, the Academy's Director of Global Initiatives, is one of the world's experts in rainforest canopies—and was one of the first scientists to climb into the treetops and begin documenting the incredible biodiversity found there. 

Meg Lowman in the Canopy