Main entrance to the California Academy of Sciences building

Overview: Home to Steinhart Aquarium, Kimball Natural History Museum, Morrison Planetarium, and world-class research and education programs, the new California Academy of Sciences is one of San Francisco's must-see destinations. From the splashing penguins in African Hall to the wildflowers on the roof, the building is bursting with life. A four-story living rainforest and awe-inspiring coral reef ecosystem will delight visitors of all ages, while interactive space shows will transport audiences beyond the boundaries of our planet. Opportunities abound to meet Academy scientists, share in their discoveries, and join the journey to make our world a greener, more sustainable place to live.

Opening Day: September 27, 2008

Ties to the Past: The outer two limestone walls of African Hall, which opened in 1934, were conserved for aesthetic and historical value, and are the only structures from the old Academy present in the new building. Both African Hall and the Foucault pendulum, installed in 1951, were beloved attractions that will return with updated designs and technology in the new building.

55 Music Concourse Drive
Golden Gate Park
San Francisco, CA 94118

​Phone (415) 379-8000
Web Site

Hours of Operation:
Monday - Saturday, 9:30 am - 5 pm
Sunday, 11 am - 5 pm

Major Exhibit Descriptions
For a complete list of current and upcoming exhibits, please click here to see the current Exhibits Overview document, or contact the Academy Communications Department.

Ongoing Programs
Each week's full schedule of events, programs, and lectures is available on the Academy's website at Visitor favorites include:

Penguin Feedings: The Academy's African penguins are especially animated during meal time. Watch the birds dip and dive in their tank at the end of African Hall as a biologist dons a wet suit and hands out vitamin-stuffed herring and capelin twice a day. Each feeding takes 10 minutes, and questions are encouraged. Free with General Admission.

Coral Reef Dives: Watch as a diver suits up in scuba gear and plunges into the world's deepest living coral reef exhibit. Outfitted with an underwater microphone, the diver will answer all of your reef-related questions. Free with General Admission.

NightLife (Ages 21+): Every Thursday from 6-10 pm, adults can explore the museum in a whole new light. Dance to some of San Francisco's most popular DJs, enjoy food and cocktails, and mingle with the like-minded while you explore the Academy's world-class exhibits and get up close and personal with aquarium critters. Take in some knowledge with your libations—each week features provocative science content and a few surprises. Find weekly details at

Penguins + Pajamas Sleepovers: Why count sheep when you could count geckos, butterflies, sharks, and penguins? Now kids ages 5+ and their adult chaperones can camp out for a night at the California Academy of Sciences—and see the museum in a whole new light. Sleepovers include after-hours access to Academy exhibits, a special penguin talk, live animal demonstration, planetarium show, story time with cookies and milk, parking, breakfast, and more. For more information, please visit

Specialty Tours: Enhance an Academy visit with a Behind-the-Scenes Tour or NightLife VIP Tour. Visit for details and pricing.

And much more: Check for upcoming programs and events.

Admissions and Operations
Note: Prices include access to all components of the Academy experience, including all museum exhibits, aquarium displays, planetarium shows, and the living rainforest. During peak periods, including some holiday weekends, an admission surcharge and extended hours may apply.
Adults: $34.95
Youth (ages 12-17): $29.95
Senior (ages 65 and over): $29.95
Student: $29.95
Child (ages 4-11): $24.95
Ages 3 and under: FREE

Discount for taking public transportation to the Academy: $3 per person

Free Admission Programs: Many opportunities exist to visit the California Academy of Sciences during free days, including Quarterly Free Sundays, Neighborhood Free Weekends (select weekends for San Francisco residents), and San Francisco school groups with advance registration.

​Memberships are tax-deductible and can pay for themselves in as few as two visits.

Individual: $149
Includes unlimited admission for membership holder plus one guest

Senior (65 and over): $99
Includes unlimited admission for membership holder plus one guest 

Teacher: $99
Includes unlimited admission for membership holder plus one guest
Valid for pre-K through 12 California classroom teachers (proof of employment required)

Family: $249
Includes unlimited admission for two adults and all children or grandchildren 18 years of age and under

Family Plus: $299
Includes all Family membership benefits, plus admission for two guests.

Mobile Technology: Dive deeper into the natural world with one of the Academy's smart phone apps:

  • Pocket Penguins (now available for iPhone & Android): View the Academy's popular African Penguin cams any time, any place, live on a smart phone.
  • Golden Gate Park Field Guide (now available for iPhone): The go-to mobile guide for navigating San Francisco's thousand-acre urban oasis. The app highlights the park's common wildlife, popular attractions, and hidden gems. It also invites users to actively engage with the park and to record and share their experiences.
  • Academy Insider (now available for iPhone): Enhance the experience of exploring the Academy with tours, quizzes, video and audio clips, fun facts, a live daily events feed, and other tools. Current tours highlight predators in the plant and animal kingdoms and research efforts at the Academy.

Green Architecture: Designed by award winning architect Renzo Piano, the California Academy of Sciences sets a new standard for sustainable architecture as the world's first "Double Platinum" museum. Supported by recycled steel, insulated with recycled blue jeans, powered in part by solar panels, and topped with a living roof, the building is the epitome of energy-efficient design. In October 2008, the Academy was awarded the highest possible rating from the U.S. Green Building Council: LEED Platinum. In September, 2011, the Academy received a second LEED Platinum rating under the "Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance" category, which certifies that its day-to-day operations and business practices also meet the highest standards of sustainability.

Academy Research: Founded in 1853, the Academy is an international center for scientific education and research and is at the forefront of efforts to understand and protect the diversity of Earth's living things. The Academy has a staff of over 50 professional educators and PhD-level scientists, supported by more than 100 Research and Field Associates and over 300 Fellows. It houses 26 million biological, geological, and cultural specimens from around the world and conducts research in 12 scientific fields: anthropology, aquatic biology, botany, comparative genomics, entomology, geology, herpetology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology, mammalogy, microbiology, and ornithology.

Facility Dimensions: Total square footage in new Academy: 410,000 square feet. Total public space: 100,000 square feet. The new Academy will have more useable square footage than the previous facility but will leave a smaller footprint in the park due to the addition of a basement and more efficient use of interior space.

Facility Rentals: The Academy is now taking reservations for private events and can accommodate seated parties of up to 1,000 people or receptions of up to 3,000 people. For more information, please contact Anne Rianda at or (415) 379-5497.


Press Contacts

If you are a journalist and would like to receive Academy press releases please contact

Digital Assets

Hi-res and low-res image downloads are available for editorial use. Contact us at to request access.