CALIFORNIA ACADEMY OF SCIENCES LOOKS TO FUTURE
ON OCCASION OF 150TH ANNIVERSARY
The New Academy: The Next 150 Years Features Plans
New California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park
SAN FRANCISCO (February 27, 2003) - To launch the celebration of its
150th anniversary, the California Academy of Sciences presents 150 Years
of Science: Exploring Nature's Wonders, a special exhibition that highlights
a century and a half of the Academy's outstanding achievements, and presents
plans for the new California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.
The New Academy: The Next 150 Years traces the development of the intellectual
and physical changes the Academy will undergo to strengthen its place
among the world's leading scientific and cultural institutions. The New
Academy: The Next 150 Years shares with visitors the process of conceiving
and designing the new facility through architectural sketches, preliminary
designs, building models, historic photos, and information on sustainable
building design strategies that will be used to create a "green"
building. The themes and ideas behind new exhibitions will be explored
and preliminary sketches for central exhibition elements will be on view.
Founded in 1853, the California Academy of Sciences was one of the first
institutions in the United States dedicated to exploring and protecting
the natural world and sharing scientific knowledge with the public. "In
this exhibition, we want to engage the public in our planning process
for the future. We will show that the new Academy builds on the institution's
distinguished history to meet the challenges we face in protecting an
increasingly fragile world," said Executive Director and Curator
Dr. Patrick Kociolek. "Our goal is to stir a profound sense of our
connection to the living world and inspire people to become the environmental
conscience of the nation. "
Projected upon a large free-standing wall is an interactive, digital montage
of video clips, still images and animations highlighting the Academy's
past, present and future. Narrative snippets deal with subjects such as
scientific collections and fieldwork, education and outreach, and infrastructure.
The piece is intended to give museum visitors an understanding of the
many facets of the Academy's mission to explore and explain the natural
Sheds, an art installation designed for this exhibition, features dramatically
enlarged photographic reproductions of snake-skins. The installation symbolizes
the Academy's powerful transition towards a new and revitalized future.
The artists have created high-resolution digital images of outgrown, cast-off
skins of a corn snake, boa constrictor and other snakes - all taken from
the Academy's own herpetology collection. The long, sinewy sheds stretch
across a large white wall, revealing the intricate detail and pattern
of the skins' structure. Sheds, created by artists Lane Hall and Lisa
Moline, and the multi-media wall, created by the artists in collaboration
with architecture and design firm Hanson, are part of the Academy's experimental
efforts to merge science and art.
The Academy's Temporary Home: 2004 to 2008
The Academy has developed plans to maintain a vital presence in the Bay
Area during construction of its new facility. Visitors to the exhibition
will see imagery of the Academy's future temporary home at 875 Howard
Street in downtown San Francisco as well as the Academy's past location
at 819 Market Street and current location in Golden Gate Park. A monumental
feat, more than 18 million natural history specimens from the Academy's
scientific collections will be transported to the temporary space for
continuous use by scientists. The temporary home will open to the public
Designed to commemorate the Academy's transition as it moves to a temporary
home in preparation for construction, a super-enlarged, digital scan of
a monarch butterfly chrysalis, or pupa, symbolizes the process of metamorphosis
and change. An apt metaphor for the upcoming transformation of the Academy,
Chrysalis was created by artists Lane Hall and Lisa Moline.
The Architecture of the New Academy
Designed by Pritzker Prize winner Renzo Piano, the new building will be
an expressive response to the Academy's setting in one of the world's
most beautiful urban parks. An artifact case displays a selection of models
and sketches, all created by Renzo Piano Building Workshop. The materials
demonstrate Piano's sensitivity to the Academy's mission, the natural
environment of Golden Gate Park, and the history of the institution. "You
must create a building that belongs to nature," says Piano. "Architecture
is about illusion. It's about telling stories - this building tells the
story of science."
An example of sustainable architecture, the new museum will also be a
functional expression of the Academy's efforts to enhance the knowledge
of, and protect the natural environment. The Next 150 Years seeks to demonstrate
that the Academy's environmental priorities will be married to design
excellence. As one of ten pilot projects in San Francisco 's "Green
Building Program " under the Department of the Environment, the new
facility will incorporate a wide range of sustainable design concepts.
Exhibitions in the New Academy
The new Academy will continue to feature a Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison
Planetarium and upgraded and enhanced natural history museum exhibitions.
While these will remain distinct entities, their boundaries will merge
on the public floor into a more integrated whole that better reflects
ecological complexity and the multidisciplinary nature of science. Early
sketches of future exhibitions represent an overview of the visitor experiences
in the new Academy. These initial design ideas express the principles
that guide the design of exhibitions in the new Academy: to celebrate,
discover, and protect the natural world.
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