The Naturalist Center is home to hundreds of specimens and hands-on science activities for all. Whether you're 9 or 90, curiosity is celebrated, questions are encouraged, and wonder is welcome.

Part natural history museum and part dynamic activity space, the Wilson Family Naturalist Center is packed with resources to explore. From a real dinosaur bone to a variety of books and hands-on activities, the opportunities to investigate are endless. Come in any time during open hours and discover the splendor of the natural world.

Now through December: As part of Steinhart Aquarium's centennial, view objects, artwork, and technology from the aquarium, including historic tiles and bronze decorative elements from the original 1923 building; a vintage underwater camera used by former Curator and Superintendent, Dr. Earl Herald; specimen skulls; historic documents and illustrations, and more.

A small human skulls on a shelf in the Naturalist Center.

Hands-on exploration

A wolverine's soft pelt, a false trumpet's spiraling shell, and so much more—hundreds of specimens pack the shelves of the Naturalist Center, ready to be explored.

An Academy naturalist talks to a visitor about a specimen.

Curious about California?

Get an up-close view of some of California’s native species beautifully displayed in a specimen cabinet as you enter the Naturalist Center.

Books on a wide range of natural science subjects are available.

Discover it yourself

From classics like The Origin of Species to a quirky roadkill field guide, the Naturalist Center offers a selection of books, magazines, and guides to fuel your curiosity and help you find answers to your California biodiversity questions.


An Academy naturalist works with a young visitor to identify a butterfly.

Activities and more

With games, Mystery Boxes, scavenger hunts, and more, the Naturalist Center never stops in its mission to help visitors of all ages connect to the natural world.




Experience the wonder

Visit an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, and natural history museum—all under one living roof.

Hours and location

The Naturalist Center is open 11 am-4:30 pm daily. Last entry is 4:15 pm. Find it on the third floor of the Academy—take the main stairs or elevators (located near the Café) and follow the aerial walkway.