Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Snakes, Drummers and Whoopi Goldberg: The New Academy Turns One!

This Saturday, the new-and-improved California Academy of Sciences celebrates the one-year anniversary of its reopening. First established in San Francisco in 1853, the dressed-up 100,000-square foot space in the middle of Golden Gate Park is completely eco-friendly and now encompasses an aquarium, planetarium and museum all rolled into one—it’s the only institution of its kind in the world. Even the top of the building is utilized to further the recurring theme of sustainability and diversity: The Living Roof comprises two-and-a-half acres of 1.7 million native species carefully planted and picked for their ability to flourish in the park’s climate.

In its one short year, more than two million visitors have explored the new facade, the piece de resistance of which we think is the Rainforests of the World annex, a four-level, glass-walled tower, with each floor dedicated to a different forest (Madagascar, Borneo, Costa Rica, the Amazon). The room is open so the 2,300 butterflies and birds flutter around you as you explore, and you’ll see reptiles and fish galore. Just outside the annex, pay a visit to the building’s most popular resident, the albino alligator. Other added touches like a pendulum which represents Earth's rotation will further enhance your day at the museum.

The Academy also serves as one of the state’s top research centers; it houses labs where museum-goers can look in from the main facility and observe ongoing insects, plants, snakes, anthropology projects, with the concept being to increase transparency between researchers and the public. To complete the entire experience, grab a bite to eat in the subterranean Moss Room, a culinary business venture from two of the city’s most notable chefs, Loretta Keller (celebrated chef/owner of Coco500) and Charles Phan (of Slanted Door fame).

New to the museum is Journey to the Stars, a planetarium show narrated by Whoopi Goldberg that will begin screening on Sept. 26. To mark the Academy’s first anniversary, there will also be an eclectic range of performances and special exhibits on Sept. 26 and 27 - from Nigerian drummers masquerade to live snakes demonstration. To view them all, log onto the Academy's website.