Dial into the Natural World

California Academy of Sciences offers innovative cell phone audio tours

SAN FRANCISCO (August 2, 2006) – Have you ever wanted to take an audio tour of a museum without the hassle or expense of renting equipment? The California Academy of Sciences is testing an innovative new service that allows visitors to do just that. By dialing a special number on their own cell phones, visitors can listen to Academy scientists talk about the African penguin colony, coral reef tank, moon rock, and over a dozen other specially designated exhibits. Spanish audio is also available for select exhibits.

Besides eliminating the need for special equipment, another advantage of this new service is the ease with which Academy staff can update the audio recordings. As a result, visitors can be assured they are listening to the most up-to-the-minute information. The anecdotes and fun facts contained in these tours go well beyond the exhibit text, offering an insider’s perspective on animal husbandry, exhibit design, artifact history, and much more.

The Academy welcomes feedback on this new technology—a special code allows visitors to leave a voicemail regarding their experience. If successful, these audio tours may be offered in 2008, when the Academy returns to Golden Gate Park.

All audio tours are free except for minutes, according to visitors' cell phone plans. This service was produced by Media Interchange and delivered by Guide by Cell.


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 is: $10 for adults, $6.50 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. every day. www.calacademy.org (415) 379-8000.

The California Academy of Sciences, the fourth largest natural history museum in the United States, is home to Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium and the Natural History Museum. The Academy is in the midst of an extensive rebuilding project in Golden Gate Park. Pritzker prize-winning architect Renzo Piano is designing the new Academy, which is expected to open in 2008.