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The California Academy of Sciences Open at
875 Howard Street
Grand Opening Saturday, June 19, 2004

(San Francisco, CA) May 21, 2004 - The California Academy of Sciences is pleased to announce the grand opening of a temporary museum at 875 Howard Street, San Francisco. Until late 2008, when the new Academy opens in Golden Gate Park, 875 Howard Street will offer visitors the opportunity to see the animals of Steinhart Aquarium, visit two floors of changing natural history exhibits, learn about life in extreme environments, become citizen scientists in the Naturalist Center, and bring tots to play in the Nature Nest.

The post-industrial space at 875 Howard Street will serve as an Academy learning laboratory for both visitors and museum planners. Visitor responses to innovative Academy research-based exhibits will directly influence the development of exhibits for the new Academy in Golden Gate Park.

Many exhibits in the Howard Street space will serve as prototypes for the new Academy in Golden Gate Park, including ANTS: Hidden Worlds Revealed, and Astrobiology: Life in the Extreme. The Naturalist Center, a resource center for citizen scientists, and Nature Nest, an area for young scientists in training, are also testing grounds for the new Academy in Golden Gate Park. Between these two active learning labs, the Academy at 875 Howard Street caters to curious minds of all ages.

The exhibits are all located on the first two floors, while Academy scientists and over 18 million research specimens reside on the top four floors of the six-story building. The downtown Steinhart Aquarium, which is located primarily on the first floor, with a few tanks on the second floor as well, allows visitors to watch Academy biologists working daily on the public floor to balance tank-water chemistry, test life-support systems, and care for the animals. The aquarium's inside-out design enables visitors to view the pipes, filters, oxygen tanks, and heating and cooling elements that make up the complex life-support systems that power the aquarium. Veteran visitors to the Academy will recognize long-time Steinhart residents in the downtown tanks, including African Penguins, Australian Lungfish, Alligator Snapping Turtles, the Giant Sea Bass, and the Common Clownfish (also known as Nemo).

A living coral reef grows in a tank next to the stairs, spanning both exhibit floors. From the first floor, and on the stairs to the second floor, visitors may view the growing corals in a 20-foot deep tank. Throughout the Academy's four years at 875 Howard Street, Academy biologists will experiment with growing corals at various depths in this tank. The 20,000-gallon tank will house a variety of corals and other tropical reef animals, including Leather Corals, Moorish Idols, Harlequin Tusk Fish, Yellow Tangs, and a Giant Clam. In addition to housing fishes while the Academy rebuilds, this tank will serve as a prototype for the new Academy. In the new museum in Golden Gate Park, biologists will cultivate a 225,000-gallon coral reef tank that will be the largest living coral reef exhibit in the world when it opens in 2008.

In addition to residents of Steinhart Aquarium, the downtown site hosts changing natural history exhibits. The first to open, ANTS: Hidden Worlds Revealed, features six live ant colonies, including four ant species found in California (Honeypot ants, Carpenter ants, Harvester ants, and invasive Argentine ants) as well as the stars of the exhibit, two tropical species (80,000 Leaf Cutter ants and nearly one million Army ants). The exhibit combines sophisticated technology and the specialized knowledge of Academy scientists to reveal a seemingly hidden world, providing insights into an intricate, 80 million year old society. ANTS will be on display on the first floor through April 2005.

On the second floor, visitors can learn about organisms that survive in harsh conditions in the exhibit Astrobiology: Life in the Extreme. Astrobiology is an exciting new scientific discipline that combines the traditional fields of astronomy, biology, geology, chemistry, and physics to address a vast topic: the study of life in the Universe. Astrobiology considers questions such as: What is life? How do we study it? Where is it found on Earth? And does it exist elsewhere in the Universe? To identify the types of environments that would be capable of supporting life beyond our own planet, astrobiologists study the limits of life here on Earth. They do this by researching extreme environments, such as thermal springs and hydrothermal vents (geysers on the ocean floor), that host hardy living organisms. The Academy's exhibit explores both of these types of extreme environments. The Academy is delving into this compelling new field through this exhibit for Howard Street.

Other natural history displays include SSsssnake Alley, where terrestrial snakes from Steinhart Aquarium reside; and ScienceNOW, which presents a frequently changing display of current Academy research and breaking science news. Also, visitors are welcome to visit the Naturalist Center, a resource center that offers reference collections of books and specimens as well as a variety of science-based programming. In addition, the Academy's extensive research library is available to the public by appointment. (Appointments may be arranged via email: Toddlers can get in on the fun in Nature Nest, an early childhood education center for young scientists in training.

A six-story building located on Howard Street between 4th and 5th Streets, 875 Howard is directly across the street from Moscone West, and is near Yerba Buena Gardens, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, METREON, Zeum, and SF MOMA. Conveniently located near the Fifth and Mission Garage, 875 Howard Street is within short walking distance from major public transportation hubs including the Powell Street Station, the CalTrain Station at 4th and King Streets, and San Francisco's Transbay Terminal. Hours at 875 Howard Street are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. Admission is $7 for adults; $4.50 for youth ages 12 to 17, Seniors ages 65+, and students with valid ID; $2 for children ages four to 11; and children ages three and younger will be admitted free of charge. Hours at the Academy Store are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day.

Morrison Planetarium will be closed throughout the rebuilding project. However, interested parties may rent a portable planetarium complete with a sky talk by calling (415) 379-8000.

About the Academy: Growing Anew in Golden Gate Park
The California Academy of Sciences is the fourth largest Natural History Museum in the United States. Home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium and the Natural History Museum, the Academy has eight scientific research departments in ten different fields of study, and it holds over 18 million specimens in its research collections. During the rebuild, the Academy's research, administration, and education staff, as well as its collections, will reside at 875 Howard Street. Since the Academy in Golden Gate Park opened in 1916, long-term wear and tear, caused by over 100 million visitors passing through its halls, has taken a toll on the buildings. In addition, a number of the Academy's Golden Gate Park buildings were damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, and some public areas have been closed since then. The new facility, designed by Pritzker Prize winning architect Renzo Piano, will ensure the museum complex is seismically safe and will incorporate environmentally responsible construction technology, as well as recycled and renewable building materials into an aesthetically accomplished master plan. The new Academy building will be a physical and conceptual extension of its mission.

The California Academy of Sciences was one of the country's first institutions dedicated to exploring, explaining and protecting the natural world and has shared its discoveries with the public since its founding in 1853. The Academy's plan to rebuild in Golden Gate Park compliments the Academy's distinguished history; the plans strengthen the Academy's commitment to advance scientific literacy, awareness about the natural world, and conservation of natural resources.


The California Academy of Sciences, including Steinhart Aquarium and the Natural History Museum, is open to the public at 875 Howard Street. Admission to the Academy at 875 Howard Street is: $7 for adults, $4.50 for youth ages 12 to 17, Seniors ages 65+ and students with valid ID, $2 for children ages four to 11 and children ages three and younger will be admitted free of charge. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday. (415) 379-8000.

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