Creatures + cocktails. Music + movements. Science + spectacle. Culture grows in the dark—Thursday nights at the Academy.

Upcoming events

February 29th at 6:00 pm

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

March 7th at 6:00 pm

From bhangra to Pan Afro-Urban dance and Samba, see how the dance floor becomes a canvas for self-expression.

March 14th at 6:00 pm

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

March 21st at 6:00 pm

Sashay into a night of greatness and glam as we celebrate the undeniable impact and artistry of drag.

March 28th at 6:00 pm

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

April 4th at 6:00 pm

We're serving more than looks in a night all about weaving connections through fashion.

Know before you glow

We’re a science museum. Q&As are in our DNA. Hence this FAQ.

Hours + tickets

When is it?
NightLife is every* Thursday from 6-10 pm. Last entry into the building is 9 pm. All guests must be 21+ with valid, physical photo ID.

*Well, *almost* every Thursday. We hibernate for the holidays from mid-December through early-January, and there are a couple other NightLife-less Thursdays during the year due to other events in the building.

Are all exhibitions open?
Unless otherwise noted on a NightLife event page, everything that’s open during the day is open during NightLife, and all exhibitions and activities (except for planetarium shows, see below) are included with the price of admission.

Heads up: Osher Rainforest closes at 7:45 pm, with last entry at 7:30 pm. It’s one of our most popular exhibitions, so please queue up early if you want to trek through the tropics. (Our free-flying birds and butterflies operate on a different schedule than night owls like you—thanks for understanding.)

How much are tickets?
NightLife ticket prices vary by event, but are always lower than daytime prices. While we love spontaneity, a little planning pays off in three ways: You’ll save an average of $3+ per ticket when you buy 3+ days in advance; you’ll skip the ticket line at the door; and you’ll guarantee your tickets, because sellouts do happen.

How do I see a planetarium show?
Morrison Planetarium passes are not included with NightLife admission, and are sold separately for $5 each. When purchasing NightLife tickets online, you’ll be prompted to add an available showtime to your cart. Shows are at 6:30, 7:30, 8:30, and 9:30 pm unless otherwise noted.

Heads up:

  • Please queue up at the planetarium 15 minutes before your showtime. For your safety, there is no late entry into the theater once shows have started.
  • Planetarium passes almost always sell out in advance, so we strongly recommend purchasing them online instead of hoping for a miracle at the museum. A limited number of standby seats will be available for all showtimes on a first-come, first-served basis.
Transportation + parking

What’s the best way to get to the event?
Walk, bike, or let someone else do the driving. MUNI’s 44 O’Shaughnessy stops right at our front door (as do Uber and Lyft), with the 5 Fulton, 7 Haight, and N Judah lines mere blocks away. See our Getting Here page for transit tips.

What are my parking options?
Parking can be a challenge, especially during big nights. Music Concourse Garage (not operated by the Academy) is steps away from our entrance, but can fill up fast. Street parking is more plentiful, but be prepared to walk. For best results, arrive early. See our Parking page for details.

Heads up: Golden Gate Park is dark at night. Please walk, bike, and drive carefully as nocturnal creatures (including your fellow NightLife revelers) may be scuttling around.

Food + drink

Where can I get a drink?
Bars are located on the Main Floor (usually in the Piazza and next to the Swamp) and downstairs in the aquarium, with beer and wine available for sale in the Academy Café. Our friendly bartenders sling a smorgasbord of specialty cocktails, craft beer, and delicious wines, plus a variety of non-alcoholic beverages. Pay with cash, card, or Apple Pay. *Clink!*

Where can I grab some food?
The Academy Café offers a range of grab-and-go options, from pizza and pasta to salads and sandwiches. Some events have a food theme, with samples and munchies available while supplies last.

Can I eat and drink throughout the museum?
Yes and no. You’re welcome to roam around with your drink everywhere except the planetarium, rainforest, and Swamp, but can only eat in the Academy Café or outdoors.

What is NightLife?

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    Drag performer on stage at NightLife

    NightLife is musical

    There is a rhythm to the natural world. Chase the beat every week with DJs and performances.

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    2 male NightLife guests look into an exhibit at the Academy

    NightLife is animal

    About 60,000 creatures. A couple thousand humans. Be outnumbered in the best way.

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    A panel of people speaks to guests during a live talk in African Hall

    NightLife is cultural

    Talks, demonstrations, provocations. Bring an open mind so we can fill it with ideas.

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    Claude the alligator with albinism and his reflected image in the water

    NightLife is Claudeful

    Stop searching for the meaning of life. He lives here, has albinism, and loves gentle exfoliation.