• Academy Day diver
  • Executive Director Scott Sampson and Chief Operating Officer Leah Van Der Mei participate in Academy Day craft station.
  • Academy Day specimen station featuring corals, shells, and sea urchins.
  • Academy staff and volunteers lead a hands-on activity station in the Piazza.

To view this press release in Spanish, click here

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (March 14, 2024)—The California Academy of Sciences will kick off Earth Month on the anniversary of its founding April 4—known as Academy Day—with a wide variety of fun and educational activities, including a special science fair, giveaways, and more.

Special pay-what-you-can pricing will be offered on Academy Day (while supplies last) to expand access to every child and family and enable guests to show their support. This special pricing is one of several affordable access programs offered by the Academy throughout the year.

The second annual Academy Day will celebrate community and philanthropy, with a goal of raising $150,000 in critical funds to sustain our awe-inspiring exhibits and award-winning educational programming; support critical care for our more than 60,000 live animals; and advance our mission of regenerating nature through science, learning, and collaboration. A group of generous donors led by Visa has offered to match every donation and help the Academy hit our Academy Day fundraising goal. Donors who contribute in person or online on Academy Day will be eligible to receive a variety of prizes.

“From the Academy’s earliest days, the generosity of our members, donors, and supporters has enabled us to inspire generations of curious visitors,” said Executive Director Scott Sampson, PhD. “Today the Academy is rooted in a powerful purpose: regenerating the natural world. On Academy Day, we celebrate our regenerative community, from expert scientists and educators who generate and share knowledge, to our amazing animal care specialists and inspirational visitor experience staff.”

Academy Day offerings this year will include supersize animatronic insects at Spring in the Garden, face painting, a photo booth, and these additional activities:

  • Welcome from Executive Director Scott Sampson
    Attend our Academy Day grand opening featuring a warm welcome from our executive director. (9-9:30 am)
  • Science fair
    Dive into our planet’s wondrous biodiversity with Academy experts during this hands-on science fair, which will also feature our three regeneration initiatives: Hope for ReefsIslands 2030, and Thriving California. (9:30-3 pm)
  • Live animals from Lindsay Wildlife Experience
    The East Bay wildlife hospital and museum will offer presentations with live animals and touchable specimens and share information about their work. Animal visitors will include a Pacific gopher snake, blue death-feigning beetles, and a desert blonde tarantula, plus some special guests. (12-3 pm)
  • Science lectures
    Engage in lectures and chats on the Academy's history, biodiversity science, Earth Month, and more. (10 am-2 pm)
  • Insect illustration station
    Learn how to draw your favorite insects with the Academy’s expert illustrator in our East Garden. (10 am-12 pm)
  • Planetarium popup
    Join our planetarium presenters for hands-on activities demonstrating the marvelous science that makes up our universe.
  • Golden Gate Park birdwatching
    Jack Dumbacher, the Academy’s curator of ornithology and a master birder, will lead a group of donors on a birding walk in Golden Gate Park.

Academy Day is the first of many activities that the Academy is hosting in April to celebrate Earth Month and engage the public in taking action to make the planet healthier for people and wildlife.

Academy history

The Academy was founded on the evening of April 4, 1853—just three years after California joined the United States—when seven men assembled in a candle-lit room in a Montgomery Street office in San Francisco to create the first scientific academy west of the Atlantic seaboard. They proposed to undertake “a thorough systematic survey of every portion of the state and the collection of a cabinet of her rare and rich productions."

Local naturalists’ fieldwork generated a growing collection of research specimens, leading to the opening of a public museum on Market Street to display these scientific treasures in 1874. Since then, countless other Academy staff and scientists, including some whose “untold stories” were largely overlooked due to their identity, have helped transform the Academy into a powerful voice for biodiversity science; a leader in environmental education; and the only institution in the world with an aquarium, planetarium, rainforest, and natural history museum all under one living roof.

Today, the Academy welcomes more than 1 million visitors a year and is home to more than 100 scientists who study biodiversity and apply that knowledge to our efforts to regenerate the natural world.

Additional resources:

Media contact: Ronna Kelly, rkelly@calacademy.org

About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution with a mission to regenerate the natural world through science, learning, and collaboration. Based in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, it is home to a world-class aquarium, planetarium, and natural history museum, as well as innovative programs in scientific research and environmental education—all under one living roof. Museum hours are 9:30 am – 5:00 pm Monday – Saturday, and 11:00 am – 5:00 pm on Sunday. Admission includes all exhibits, programs, and shows. For daily ticket prices, please visit www.calacademy.org or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.

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