California Academy of Sciences to Re-Open September 15

Re-Opening Celebration to Honor S.F. Fire Department Members for Saving Academy’s Treasures

Extensive Damage from Fire, Smoke and Water is Being Cleaned and Restored

SAN FRANCISCO (September 6, 2001) ­ The California Academy of Sciences will re-open its doors to the public on Saturday September 15 at 10 a.m. after suffering extensive damage caused by a fire last week.

A short celebration starting at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 15 will honor members of the San Francisco Fire Department for their role in saving virtually all of the Academy’s live animals, research specimens and exhibits from permanent damage. The event, which will be held on the front steps of the Academy, is free and open to the public.

Although only a small portion of the museum suffered severe damage caused by flames, areas surrounding the blaze suffered extensive damage from heat, smoke and water. Hundreds of cleaning and restoration specialists are currently working around the clock to ensure these areas are fully restored by September 15.  Crews are replacing carpets, washing and repainting walls, and venting and deodorizing the entire building. In addition, conservators and other experts are examining the condition of artifacts and several dioramas in preparation for restoration efforts that will continue through the fall.

“The damage caused by the fire was more extensive than we originally realized,” said Dr. Patrick Kociolek, Curator and Executive Director of The California Academy of Sciences. “We pride ourselves on bringing science education to the public 365 days a year and we are working as quickly as possible to resume our mission of educating the public about the natural world.”

The fire, which started in the Academy store, was quickly brought under control by members of the San Francisco Fire Department in the early morning hours of August 30. No serious injuries were reported and virtually all of the Academy’s animals, specimens and exhibits emerged without suffering permanent damage.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation; there is no evidence of any suspicious activity. The Academy is fully insured for all of its fire losses. 

The Exploratorium has kindly offered free admissions to Academy members until the Academy re-opens. The Exploratorium is located inside the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco's Marina District (tel: 415-EXP-LORE).

The Academy is comprised of twelve buildings, constructed in a piecemeal fashion beginning in 1916.  As early as 1989, when some of these buildings were damaged in the Loma Prieta earthquake, the Academy began plans to upgrade its aging facility.  Earlier this year, the Academy announced its initial plans for a comprehensive upgrade and integration of its public spaces, exhibitions, and scientific research facilities.

Since 1853, the California Academy of Sciences has been dedicated to exploring, explaining, and protecting the natural world.  The Academy is the oldest scientific institution in the West, founded after the California gold rush to survey the vast resources of California and beyond.  Today it has grown to be one of the largest natural history museums in the country, and is the only one in the nation to include both an aquarium and planetarium.  The Academy of Sciences provides scientific knowledge and expertise to visiting scientists, educators, adults, students, parents, children, conservation organizations, government leaders, and the media.