Big. Beautiful. Biodiverse. When it comes to nature, California is second to none. Our all-new exhibition reveals the surprising connections between people, places, and species that make our state thrive.

Kelp as an ecosystem engineer. Scorpions as starlight navigators. Fire as a friend to forests. And humans helping build resilience across our state. Through hands-on interactives, multi-sensory displays, stunning specimens, and captivating media, find out how Academy research, Indigenous partnerships, and community science are restoring and regenerating California’s forests, urban habitats, coast, and deserts—and how you can get involved.

California: State of Nature is open daily.


Preserved specimen of Monarch, one of the last California grizzly bears, on exhibit at California Academy of Sciences. Photo © Gayle Laird

Forests and fire

California's forests inspire awe and engage our senses. Meet a mounted specimen of Monarch, one of California's last grizzly bears; marvel at a mammoth cross-section of a redwood tree; view virtual California condors via your smartphone; and see how Indigenous burning practices help spark forest resilience in the Sierras.

Pictured: Monarch, a California grizzly bear (Ursus arctos californicus)

A drawer of preserved pipevine swallowtail butterfly specimens from the Academy collections. Photo © Gayle Laird

Connected cities

The Bay Area is famous for its vibrant cities and big ideas, but it's time to honor the contributions of our non-human neighbors. Follow the journey of a coyote specimen; trigger a wildlife camera trap; and get the scoop on urban wildlife poop. Wait…did you feel that? The Shake House is back! Keep your balance in a simulated 7.9-magnitude earthquake.

Pictured: Pipevine swallowtail butterflies (Battus philenor)

Chumash necklace by artist Tima Link on exhibit at California Academy of Sciences. Photo © Gayle Laird

Sea to shore

From rugged Del Norte to sun-splashed San Diego, California's marine and intertidal biodiversity nourishes its ecosystems as well as its Indigenous communities. Touch a real blue whale vertebra; explore skulls, skeletons, and models of species native to San Francisco Bay; and hear from Chumash and Ohlone culture bearers on their ties to the coast.

Pictured: Woman’s necklace / hi l‘e’l hi sam‘e’leč hi l‘en’eneq by Tima Lotah Link (Šmuwič Chumash)

Preserved barn owl specimen on exhibit at California Academy of Sciences. Photo © Gayle Laird

Dynamic desert

The Mojave Desert is a fierce but fragile ecosystem. Encounter the species that emerge during the transition from day to night, including new-to-science scorpions, burrowing owls, and kangaroo rats. Plus, learn about the latest efforts to research and regenerate the Mojave, from Academy researchers surveying insects to community scientists monitoring dark skies.

Pictured: Barn owl (Tyto alba)

Generously supported by:
Bernard Osher Foundation wordmark