Enter the world of color. Live animals and stunning interactive environments take you over the rainbow and reveal the significant roles color plays across a spectrum of species. 

See color for what it truly is: a major player in the natural world. From mating rituals to survival tactics, color plays a crucial part in the day-to-day life of countless species, and reveals the interconnectedness of life.

Explore color’s influence on animal behavior in a variety of habitats, from ocean floors to forest canopies. Walk among live birds, insects, and cephalopods displaying bold and surprising color patterns to see firsthand how various adaptive strategies—like camouflage and bioluminescence—allow animals to survive and thrive. See and hear what color can tell us about the health of the environments where these organisms live. Zoom in and examine butterfly wings and beetle shells with GIGAmacro imaging, and you’ll see life on an unprecedented (chromatic) scale.

New! Dwarf cuttlefish are now on exhibit in Color of Life. Can you find their eggs?

Gouldian Finches © David Liittschwager

Appearances Matter

A female Gouldian finch can identify the most suitable male based on his display of brilliant colors, making for a short (and foolproof) personal ad. In the exhibit’s aviary, you’ll see why her choice may still be a challenge, given how much coloration can vary within one species.

Frogspawn Coral

Color Commentary

From green leaves turning red to coral reefs losing their vibrancy, color shifts can signal larger underlying changes. Academy scientists share how they use these cues to guide their research in some of the world’s most critically endangered habitats.

Reed Frog

Visual Cues

Learn to speak the language of color—your life may depend on it. By observing the many ways in which species communicate through color, you'll know whether they're luring prey, warning a predator, or just looking for a mate.

Photo of green tree python; Source: Marcel Burkhard alias cele4

Seeing Red

The term “snake eyes” takes on a whole new meaning when you see the world—and track mice—like a green tree python. Take a peek through our infrared display to see how snakes’ built-in sensory organs allow them to actually see the body heat of their prey.

Color of Life Educator Guide Cover

Free Educator Guides

We've designed grade-specific materials to help you integrate this exhibit into your Academy field trip. Each guide includes key concepts, glossaries, behind-the-scenes articles, guiding questions and answers, and linkages to the Next Generation Science Standards.


This exhibit is generously supported by

Google.org and Pisces Foundation logos
Generously supported by:
Google.org and Pisces Foundation logos