The New Academy: The Next 150 Years Features Plans for
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 world.

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 in 2004.
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."

Sustainable Design
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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