NightLife: Level 2

This is not a glitch, gaming is back at NightLife! We’re taking Thursday night to the next level with the ultimate gamer extravaganza. Game on with a Super Smash Bros. Melee® tournament, scientific Pokémon Snap livestream, video-game cosplay and more.

Sounds by RIETA

Check out RIETA's exclusive NightLife playlist on the NightLife Spotify page


Create Mode
6 - 10 PM

  • Feeling crafty? Try your hand at something new with the Museum of Craft and Design’s Wheel O’ Crafts. From retro 8-bit wearables to tetris magnets, your handmade gamer art is sure to impress your friends.

Arcade Mode
6 - 10 PM

  • At the Academy Arcade no tokens are needed for a night of fun and games. Vie for the highest pinball score on favorites from the Pacific Pinball Museum, play arcade classics like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Dance Dance Revolution, and even test your luck to win a Claude plushie in our “Claw-de” machine.

VS. Mode
African Hall
6 - 10 PM

  • The ultimate Nintendo® classic returns to the museum for the second Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament, hosted by YungWaff. Watch 64 players go head-to-head in a bid to win the coveted title of Super Smash champion.

Free Play Mode
West Garden
6:30 - 9:30 PM

  • From on-screen to in-person, let the nostalgia bloom and jam out to the sweet sounds from your favorite video games performed by local orchestral powerhouse, Awesöme Orchestra - with Artistic Director Dave Möschler and Guest Conductor and curator Travis Kindred conducting
    • 6:30 - 7:20: Dragonborn from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim by Jeremy Soule arranged for orchestra and chorus by Andrés Soto
    • 7:30 - 8:30: The Legend of Zelda 25th Anniversary Medley by Koji Kondo arranged for orchestra by Andres Soto
    • 8:40 - 9:30: One Winged Angel from Final Fantasy VII by Nobuo Uematsu arranged for orchestra and chorus by Andres Soto

View Collection
Science Today
7 - 9 PM

  • Do you like Pokémon, science, and prizes? Compete against NightLife peers for bragging rights (and prizes) in Pokémon Snap, and hear from Academy researchers about Pokémon-inspired science (it’s real!). (PS. we’ll also be streaming this on our Twitch channel:!

Power Down
Curiosity Grove
6 - 10 PM

  • Don’t worry, board game lovers, we know gaming isn’t just digital. Local SF gem, Game Parlour, is back for another round with a variety of classic board games.

One last easter egg: We’ve hidden a few Pokéballs around the museum containing special surprises. Search and ye shall be rewarded. Happy hunting!

A few don't-miss NightLife details:

  • Effective September 16, NightLife guests will no longer be required to provide proof of full vaccination or a recent negative test. We still strongly encourage all guests to stay up-to-date on their vaccinations, and to mask up indoors. As always, if you’re feeling under the weather, please NightLife another time. View health and safety information here.
  • Last entry into the rainforest exhibit is 7:30 pm—our animals need their sleep.
  • Morrison Planetarium is now open at NightLife with 4 showtimes. To maximize staff and guest safety, planetarium passes are required and capacity is limited. Passes are available online in advance for an additional $5 while supplies last to reserve a seat at a 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, or 9:30 pm planetarium show. Please see our FAQs for more details. (Please note: A limited number of standby seats will be available for all showtimes as space allows on a first-come, first-served basis. Food and drink are not permitted inside the planetarium.)
  • Beverages are available at various bars throughout the building, but food must enjoyed outdoors or in the Academy Cafe only.
  • NightLife is for adults 21+ only. Photo ID required.


Planetarium Shows

6:30 pm, 7:30 pm

Explore the immense scale of the known Universe in this live presentation that leaves Earth far behind.

Dark Universe title slide
8:30 pm, 9:30 pm

Explore two of today's greatest cosmic mysteries—dark matter and dark energy. Narrated by Neil deGrasse Tyson.

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Upcoming events

June 8th at 6:00 pm

Will you go to prom with us? Dust off your best prom look and shell-ebrate the return of Under the Sea Prom.

June 15th at 6:00 pm

Explore the Academy at night alongside nearly 60,000 live animals.

June 22nd at 6:00 pm

Kick off SF Pride in style at NightLife! Featuring fierce performances by Oaklash & so much more.

June 29th at 6:00 pm

What's gender got to do with it? More than you think. Hear how scientists defy gender barriers to create change.

July 6th at 6:00 pm

See what’s revealed once the sun goes down and explore the nocturnal side of the Academy.

July 20th at 6:00 pm

Explore the nocturnal side of the Academy and see what makes the museum at night different.