SAN FRANCISCO (February 4, 2003) -- The California Academy of Sciences is currently planning for a comprehensive rebuilding of its aging facility in Golden Gate Park. As part of planning for this major initiative, the Academy invites the general public to attend Community Conversations to learn more about plans to improve the building, exhibitions, educational programs, and visitor services. Dr. Patrick Kociolek, Curator and Executive Director of the Academy, will present the vision for the future of the Academy and ideas will be exchanged about the Academy's temporary museum. The public is invited to share suggestions about how the Academy can better serve its diverse local audiences.

With construction expected to begin in early 2004, the Academy has spent years planning for the rebuilding and renovation of its facility. During the planning process, the Academy has engaged many individuals and groups - members of the museum as well as non-members, visitors, community leaders, educators, scientists, environmentalists, museum directors, leaders in technology and business, and design specialists - to find dynamic ways to serve audiences and to strengthen the Academy's position as one of the country's foremost research centers in the natural sciences. This input has helped the Academy to develop new ways to make science more accessible and engaging.

· March 4th, 7pm
Morrison Auditorium, California Academy of Sciences, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco
The Academy's 150th anniversary exhibit, 150 Years of Science: Exploring Nature's Wonders, will be open for viewing from 6:00 - 7:00 pm.
(Public transit routes serving Golden Gate Park are as follows: #44 O'Shaughnessy, #5 Fulton, #71 Haight-Noriega, #21 Hayes and the N-Judah).

· April 1st, 6:30pm
Bernal Heights Neighborhood Center, 515 Cortland Avenue, San Francisco
(Public transit routes serving BHNC are #24 Divisidero, #67 Gold-Arrow Loop).

About the Academy

The California Academy of Sciences is the oldest scientific institution in the West, founded in 1853 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 is also an international center for scientific research and is at the forefront of efforts to understand and protect the diversity of life on earth. A staff of over 50 professional educators and Ph.D. level scientists (supported by more than 100 Research and Field Associates and over 300 Fellows) work in the fields of anthropology, botany, entomology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology and geology, mammalogy and ornithology. Each year, Academy scientists go on expeditions around the world, conducting groundbreaking environmental research and adding to the Academy's collection of nearly 18 million scientific specimens.

# # # #