Ready, set, science! The Academy is reopening on March 17.

With San Francisco set to advance into the less-restrictive red tier on March 3, the Academy is thrilled to announce that we’ll be reopening to the public on March 17, with special advance access for members and donors only* on March 15 and 16. Advance reservations will be required for all guests and will be available online beginning March 10.

As always, the Academy’s top priority continues to be the health and safety of our staff, guests, and animals, and our reopening plan complies with all local, state, and CDC guidelines, and is informed by the latest science and internal expertise:

  • Timed-entry tickets must be purchased online in advance
  • Capacity will be limited to 20%
  • Masks will be required for all staff and all guests ages 3 and up
  • Enhanced cleaning protocols will be in effect
  • Physical distancing will be enforced
  • Morrison Planetarium will remain closed until further notice
  • Free reservations will be required for Osher Rainforest and the Shake House

On behalf of everyone at the Academy, thank you for your continued support during our closure. We can't wait to welcome you back for safe science adventures this spring!

*Advance access on March 15-16 applies only to active members and Donor Circle supporters. Not a member or donor yet? Join us!


Frequently asked questions

View the FAQs below for additional information and resources. Click the plus sign (+) next to each question to expand.

When will the Academy reopen?

The Academy will reopen to the public on Wednesday, March 17, with special advance access for members only on March 15 and 16. Tickets will be available beginning March 10, and all guests must reserve their tickets online in advance.

The museum will be open on our regular weekly schedule:

  • Monday-Saturday, 9:30 am-5 pm
  • Sunday, 11 am-5 pm
  • Member Hours: Tuesday, 8:30-9:30 am, and Sunday, 10-11 am
How will the Academy reopen safely?

Since March 2020, the Academy’s Reopening Task Force has been closely following the guidance of local, state, and federal public health officials, internal experts, and other key stakeholders to develop a reopening strategy that prioritizes the health and safety of our guests, staff, animals, and community—and is informed by the latest science.

During our brief reopening period from October 13-November 28, 2020, a number of new health and safety measures were implemented prior to our reclosure on November 29, including but not limited to:

  • Limiting museum attendance to 20% of our normal maximum capacity to promote physical distancing;
  • Requiring all guests, including members, to purchase or reserve timed tickets in advance for contactless entry and reduced guest density;
  • A mandatory pre-entry health screening for all guests and staff; anyone reporting COVID-19 symptoms or recent exposure to the virus will be asked to reschedule their visit;
  • Increased fresh air circulation and filtration throughout the building;
  • Required masks or face coverings for all guests ages 3 and up and all staff and volunteers;
  • Frequent cleaning and disinfecting of exhibits, public spaces, and restrooms throughout the day, and the installation of hand-sanitizer dispensers;
  • Requiring guests to maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet between their party, other guests, and Academy staff;
  • Helpful signage and floor decals to promote mask-wearing, handwashing, and physical distancing;
  • The continued closure of Morrison Planetarium, the Naturalist Center, Curiosity Grove, Discovery Tidepool, and other exhibits and spaces subject to stricter reopening guidelines and/or where physical distancing is difficult to enforce.
  • Hosting pop-up public programs and demonstrations outdoors in the East and West Garden whenever possible.
  • Requiring all food and drink to be consumed outdoors.

Guests can expect these same health and safety measures to be in place when we reopen this month, along with an increased emphasis on the importance of physical distancing and proper mask-wearing. We’re working hard to make sure we can deliver the same high-quality museum experience in the safest way possible, and will keep our community updated and informed so every guest has the information they need to stay safe. Thank you for your continued patience and support, and we can't wait to welcome you back soon.

Why was the Academy closed?

Because of the dramatic increase in COVID-19 cases in San Francisco in October and November of 2020, the City and County of San Francisco was designated a "purple tier" county by the California Department of Public Health, resulting in a rollback of reopening many indoor businesses, including museums, zoos, and aquariums.

By closing our doors to the public from November 29, 2020, through March 14, 2021, we followed the science, adhered to public health guidelines, and helped keep our guests, staff, animals, and community safe.

Who took care of the animals while the Academy was closed?

While most Academy staff will continue to work remotely after reopening, a limited number of essential personnel had access to the museum throughout our closure period to provide the highest level of care for our nearly 40,000 live animals and keep the building and its critical systems running. These staff members continue to practice physical distancing and follow rigorous safety protocols while at work to reduce any health risks.

Want to learn more about how we keep our animals healthy and active? Watch our video on animal enrichment and listen to aquarium curator Vikki McCloskey’s interview on KALW about caring for albino alligator Claude during closure.

What can I do to stay healthy and prevent community spread of COVID-19?

Common-sense hygiene and the usual tactics used to prevent seasonal colds and flu are super important in the fight against COVID-19:

  1. Wear a mask. Covering your nose and mouth when outside the home reduces virus spread—and is now required in California.

  2. Practice physical distancing: Avoid unnecessary travel and large groups, don’t shake hands or hug, and stay at least 6 feet away from people outside your household. Greeting alternatives include waving and elbow bumps.

  3. If you are sick, stay home. If you have flu-like symptoms, call your doctor.

  4. Wash hands with soap and water frequently for at least 20 seconds. If you don’t have soap and water handy, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

  5. Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and throw the tissue away, or cough or sneeze into your elbow.

  6. Avoid touching your face, especially eyes, nose, and mouth.

    And last but not least:

  7. Don’t panic! We’re all in this together, even if we have to stay six feet apart. Be kinder than necessary to family, friends, neighbors, first responders, food service workers, medical professionals, and yourself.

Where can I learn more about COVID-19?

As a scientific, research, and educational institution, the Academy believes it’s more important than ever to seek out COVID-19 information from reliable, science-based sources. Here are some links from trusted international, national, and local public health authorities to help you stay informed:

City and County of San Francisco:

California Department of Public Health:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):

The Academy's Chief of Science on COVID-19

Dr. Shannon Bennett is a virologist with a focus on infectious diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans. This expertise has naturally made her an indispensable resource for the Academy—and the general public—as we navigate the pandemic. Explore below for videos, interviews, and articles featuring Dr. Bennett.

Help us continue to recover, rebound, and rebuild. Please contribute to the Academy Resilience Fund today.