Please note: The Project Lab is closed to the public as we prepare the space for an all-new exhibit opening in 2022. Stay tuned for updates!

The Project Lab is a multi-user, state-of-the art lab outfitted with the equipment researchers use to prepare, process, and catalog specimens for the Academy’s research collections and exhibits. Intended to blur the line between lab and public exhibit, it features overhead cameras that deliver close-up views of the science happening inside. 

Grab a seat on the outside benches to watch the meticulous work involved in photographing, preparing, and describing museum specimens, or join us in front of the Project Lab for some of the Academy's most popular daily programs.





A researcher sits at an imaging station, creating macro images of very small specimens.

Specimen Imaging

From the branchial plume of a nudibranch to the eight eyes of a spider, Earth's tiny creatures are a big deal at the Project Lab. Specimens small and large are imaged on a pair of breathtakingly high-resolution cameras, including the famous "Big Kahuna" long-range system.



A researcher prepares a study skin while visitors look on.

Bird and Mammal Prep

Whether tissue-sampling or preparing a study skin (the standard in specimen prep for birds and mammals), researchers who work the Project Lab's prep table need a lot of patience and a very steady hand. Stop by the Lab to see what they're working on—and why—on the day you visit.


A docent outside the lab talks to children about birds.

Project Lab Programs

Hear from Academy scientists (and ask plenty of questions) as they share exciting research and discovery updates in programs right outside the Project Lab. Docents and special guests offer yet more exciting daily programs, making the Project Lab a favorite new-idea HQ for visitors. 

The specimen of a small mammal prepared in the Project Lab sits on display.

Academy Research

The Academy's Institute for Biodiversity Science and Sustainability is at the forefront of efforts to understand two of the most important topics of our time: the nature and future of life on Earth. Staff and specimens from all nine IBSS departments are regulars in the Project Lab; learn more about their research via the link below.




Experience the Wonder

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

Step Inside the Project Lab

Join an Academy Behind-the-Scenes Tour for an in-depth look at our Project Lab, research collections, and Gem Vault.