Academy entrance

At the California Academy of Sciences, dozens of striking settings offer filmmakers and photographers an exciting range of location options, including a 2.5-acre living roof, aquarium tanks totaling 500,000 gallons, a cafe and restaurant, millions of scientific specimens, gardens, a four-story rainforest, offices and suites, and a full-dome planetarium. To book a location filming or photo shoot, please begin by filling out an inquiry form


Thank you for your interest in using the Academy as a commercial location for your upcoming project. These guidelines detail the general parameters related to commercial filming or photographing at all locations in and immediately adjacent to the Academy, including the interior or exterior of the building, exhibits, gardens, and living roof. Filming and photography includes both still and motion footage, and filming in any recognizable form. If you have questions, please contact us at to discuss your project, or arrange for a personal tour of the facility.



Permission to film or photograph for commercial purposes is granted only after review of the proposed project and the determination by the Academy, in its sole and absolute discretion, that the project is consistent with the Academy’s mission and brand and will not disrupt the visitor experience or daily operations. Permission can only be obtained from the Facility Rentals team.

All projects must complete and submit the Commercial Photography and Filming Inquiry Form. The Academy reserves the right to grant or deny permission to shoot, in its sole and absolute discretion, and to determine the terms under which shooting will be permitted.

If you wish to film on the park grounds directly adjacent to the Academy, you will need to obtain a San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department permit.

For questions or additional information on location options and commercial filming/shooting please fill out the inquiry form.


Fees, Insurance, and Scheduling

Location Fees
Fees are determined using a variety of factors, including, but not limited to, the nature and purpose of the project, its intended market/audience, its potential promotional value to the Academy, the extent to which the Academy will be credited, scope of disruption to the visitor experience, required Academy staff support for the project duration, and the extent to which the rights of the final product are shared with and of interest to the Academy. A deposit of 50% of the estimated fees is required to be delivered not less than two weeks prior to use.

Specific fees associated with individual projects will be assessed and quoted after receipt of Commercial Photography and Filming Inquiry Form. Payment of all agreed-upon fees must be received prior to shooting/filming. Any additional costs or damages would be assessed, billed and paid upon the completion of the project.

Insurance requirements will be determined by the Academy on a project-by-project basis. Proof of compliance with the insurance requirements must be provided in advance of the shooting/filming.

At least a two week scheduling window is preferred whenever possible. The Academy will attempt to accommodate tighter schedules when reasonably possible. Interior filming/shoots should be scheduled outside public opening hours whenever possible. Evening availability will depend upon Facility Rentals calendar and current bookings. Two weeks cancelation notice is required to avoid a cancelation fee. A 50% cancelation fee is applicable if canceled with less than two weeks notice, and a 100% cancelation fee is applicable if canceled with less than one week’s notice.



The Academy exhibits, animals and plants may not be moved or altered in any way. In no event shall animals or plants be brought into the building. All crews, equipment and sets brought on site must be approved in advance and nothing may be permanently attached to walls, structures, windows or exhibits. Any and all materials brought in must be removed at the close of each day by the crew. Users are fully responsible for any and all damages occurring at the Academy as a result of the filming/shoot, and for paying for all repairs deemed necessary by the Academy. If at any time the activities disrupt the animals, visitors or building operations, the Academy reserves the right to require the rescheduling or cancelation of the activities.

Script/Content Approval
Final approved scripts and content boards, including any and all scenes or layouts that include the Academy must be submitted to the Facility Rentals Department at least two weeks prior to the project date. The Academy reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to review and approve all content and scenes and approve or deny the use of its names or images in any context.

The Academy’s name and logo are trademarks and are owned by the California Academy of Sciences. The content of any electronic or printed material referencing and/or including identifiable property, including but not limited to trademarks, of the Academy, including such content in film, audio, Internet, and/or other programs, promotional materials, signs, posters, and/or tickets, may not be utilized in any manner and/or for any purpose without the prior written consent of the Academy in its sole discretion. Any goodwill arising from the approved use of any Academy property shall inure to the benefit of the Academy.

The Academy encourages all users and vendors to use sustainable practices whenever possible. Lighting, electrical and sound equipment must be discussed and approved by the Academy prior to shooting. Many exhibits are excluded from flash photography. No smoking is allowed anywhere in the museum or on park grounds. Catering for internal consumption must be contracted through one of our approved caterers.

The Academy can arrange for parking permits only on Nancy Pelosi Drive. All other parking permits can be obtained from the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department by contacting Jim Jackson at (415) 831-5500 in the Film Permits Department. Garage parking can be arranged for a fee by contacting the garage manager at City Park (415) 750-0741. Parking must be arranged in advance and adhered to strictly. Users will only be allowed access to the Academy loading dock and fire roads for load-in and load-out periods.


Share This

Contact Us

For questions or additional information on location options and commercial filming/shooting, please contact the Facility Rentals team directly at 415.379.5499.

Plan an Event

How do you give guests an experience they’ll never forget? Celebrate at the California Academy of Sciences, where we have the art of hosting inspired events down to a science.

Bay Area Lodging

Visiting from out of town? You'll find a number of hotel recommendations on our lodging page.

NightLife Private Lounge

Looking for a great space to celebrate with your friends? Rent out the NightLife Private Lounge for early entry to a premium private room featuring catering, bar service, and access to our Thursday NightLife event. For more information, contact the Facility Rentals team at or 415.379.5499.