Origins banner

Explore the origins of life with a deep-thinking line-up of talks presented by Wonderfest, a long-standing Bay Area nonprofit inspired by curiosity and dedicated to sharing science with the public.


Exploring Origins
(African Hall)
- Hear how the Universe evolved from smooth to lumpy with UC Berkeley astrophysicist Eliot Quataert.

8:00pm - Explore how (and where) life began with Dave Deamer, Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at UC Santa Cruz.

9:00pm - Examine human civilization from the perspective of a paleoanthropologist with Cal State East Bay professor Henry Gilbert.

Evolution Examined
(Project Lab)
6:00 - 10:00pm,
At the Project Lab, view origins through an artistic lens while checking out Academy curator Dr. Lauren Esposito’s Ode to Evolution project, an interactive experience that invites NightLife guests to listen, draw, dance, or talk about the role of humans in shaping the future. Marvel at ancient plants and fossils with UC Berkeley’s Looy Lab, and explore current anthropological research with The Leakey Foundation.

A Human Climate
(The Forum)
In the Forum Theater, catch a special 3D screening of “A Human Climate,” exploring landmark anthropological discoveries and the links between climate change and human evolution with an introduction by Institute of Human Origins geologist Chris Campisano.


A variety of food options are available at NightLife from 6:00-9:30 pm, including The Academy Cafe, The Terrace located in the West Garden, and The Academy Cafe Food Cart located in the front lobby. Enjoy a different fresh seasonal "craft on draft" cocktail at each NightLife bar area designed by our resident mixologist Shane McKnight! All bars accept cash and credit cards.

6:00-7:45 pm,
Osher Rainforest—explore a lush, four-story rainforest that's teeming with life.

6:00-10:00 pm, Discover a world of dazzling live animals and shimmering scientific specimens in Color of Life

Please note: Planetarium seating is limited . Admission is available to NightLife guests on a first-come, first-served basis. No passes required. We recommend arriving 20 minutes prior to showtime.

Special programs and lectures may have limited seating and admission will be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.


Planetarium Shows

6:30 pm

Explore how our ideas about the cosmos have expanded over human history.

7:30 pm, 8:30 pm

Explore two of today’s greatest cosmic mysteries—dark matter and dark energy!

Share This

Get NightLife emails

Delightful NightLife news, delivered weekly.

Upcoming events

April 25th at 6:00 pm

Attention Earthlings: our planet's calling & it's time to answer. Join us for a night of community & activism.

May 2nd at 6:00 pm

Feel the beat of connection through the power of musical instruments.

May 9th at 6:00 pm

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

May 16th at 6:00 pm

Carnaval is taking over! Join the party and celebrate Latin American, Caribbean & Afrodiasporic cultures.

May 23rd at 6:00 pm

Why is California so special? Find out at the grand opening of our newest exhibit, California: State of Nature.

May 30th at 6:00 pm

Calling all creatures of the night: explore the nocturnal side of the Academy at NightLife and see what's rev