The California Academy of Sciences Opens May 1, at 875 Howard St
Steinhart Aquarium and Natural History Museum Move
from Golden Gate Park to Downtown San Francisco for Four Years


(San Francisco, CA) January 22, 2004 - The California Academy of Sciences is pleased to announce that it is opening to the public at 875 Howard Street, May 1, 2004. In addition to the 5,400 animals in Steinhart Aquarium, visitors to the museum will see a new natural history exhibit Ants: Hidden Worlds Revealed, a Naturalist Center, an early childhood play space, and an exhibit dedicated to astrobiology, the study of life in the Universe. These exhibits and animals, including the Academy's South African Black-Footed Penguins, Boa Constrictor, Bearded Lizards and Marine Toads will take up residence on the first two floors of the Howard Street facility, while Academy scientists and 18 million research specimens will move into the top four floors during the rebuilding of the Academy in Golden Gate Park.

At 875 Howard Street, visitors will see many of their old friends from Steinhart, including: Methuselah, the lungfish who recently celebrated 65 years at Steinhart Aquarium; Seahorses; Turtles; Vine Snakes, and Poison Dart Frogs. The residents of Steinhart Aquarium will live in a newly designed aquarium that brings the back of house to the front. The design will allow visitors to see the mechanisms that power the Aquarium, sense the temperature and salinity of the tank water, feel the dirt in dry habitats and interact with aquatic biologists as they conduct regular feedings, care for the animals and collect data.

A living coral reef will grow in a tank next to the stairs, spanning both exhibit floors, throughout the Academy's stay downtown. On the first floor, visitors will be able to look through portholes into different levels of the reef. Then, they can travel upstairs to see views of the growing reef at varying heights until they reach the top where they can peer down into a 20-foot deep tank. The tank will house nearly 20,000 gallons of pristine seawater, leather corals, Moorish Idols, Harlequin Tusk Fish, Yellow Tangs, Sea Stars, and a Giant Clam from Steinhart's 6,000-gallon coral reef tank in Golden Gate Park. This tank, in addition to housing fishes while the Academy rebuilds, will serve as a prototype for the 225,000-gallon coral reef tank that will be featured in the Academy's new facility in Golden Gate Park.

In addition to residents of Steinhart Aquarium, the downtown site will host changing natural history exhibits in the coming years. The first to open will be Ants: Hidden Worlds Revealed. Curated by Academy scientists, Ants, which continues through May 2005, will feature six different live ant colonies, including four ant species found in California (Honeypot, Carpenter, Harvester, and invasive Argentine ants) as well as two tropical species (Leaf Cutter and Army ants). The exhibit will combine 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.

Some of the permanent natural history displays will include Snake Alley, where the terrestrial snakes from Steinhart Aquarium will reside; Astrobiology, an exhibit exploring life in extreme environments; and ScienceNOW which will present a frequently changing display of current research done by the Academy, breaking science news, and expeditions around the globe. Visitors are also welcome to visit the Naturalist Center, a resource center for students of all ages open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., as well as the Academy's extensive research library by appointment. Toddlers can get in on the fun in Nature Nest, an early childhood education center with hands-on learning activities.

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 close to 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 short walking distance from major public transportation hubs including the Muni and BART Powell Street Station and San Francisco's Transbay Terminal. Hours at 875 Howard Street are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. everyday. 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.

About the Academy: Growing Anew in San Francisco's 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 holds 18 million specimens in its research collections. Since the Academy opened in Golden Gate Park in 1916, long-term wear and tear, caused by over 100 million visitors, has taken a toll on the buildings. In addition, a number of the California Academy of Sciences' 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, and recycled and renewable building materials into an aesthetically accomplished master plan. The new Academy will be a physical and conceptual extension of its mission.

The Academy 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 plans to rebuild in Golden Gate Park compliments the Academy's distinguished history and will strengthen its commitment to advance scientific literacy, awareness about the natural world, and conservation of natural resources.


# # # #