April 4 is the Academy’s birthday—and everybody is invited! Join us for a festive day of philanthropy, community, and fun among your favorite animals and exhibits. Plus, pay-what-you-can tickets are back!

Heads up! Advance tickets for Academy Day (April 4) are now sold out. A limited quantity of tickets will be available at the door. Explore year-round free and reduced admission opportunities, or purchase a Daytime Admission ticket for another date.

Watch the Academy Day trailer

It may be our birthday, but we're excited to give you the best present of all: More science! Visit the museum on Thursday, April 4, to enjoy:

  • Welcome with Executive Director Scott Sampson, PhD, at 9:15 am
  • Science Fair from 9:30 am to 3 pm
  • Classroom Talks from 10 am to 2 pm
  • Free coffee and cookie with Cafe purchase from 11 am-5 pm
  • Animal presentations from 12 pm to 3 pm
  • All exhibits, planetarium shows, and daily programs until 5 pm
  • Giveaways while supplies last
  • And more!

Make a matching gift and explore this page for Academy Day details. Thank you for 171 years of support!

Aquarium curator Charles Delbeek demonstrates a science experiment to a young girl during Academy Day 2023

Science Fair and Classroom Talks

Did you know that the Academy is home to over 100 working scientists, researchers, and animal care biologists? This Academy Day, they’re stepping out of their labs and into the Piazza and Classroom for a mind-expanding medley of presentations and demonstrations on what they’re studying at the Academy and around the world.

Grid of 4 animals from Lindsay Wildlife Experience

Outdoor programs

Head to the East and West Gardens for hands-on art and science activities hosted by Academy staff and special guests. Meet a western mastiff bat and other ambassador animals at the Lindsay Wildlife Experience; be inspired by the supersize insects of Bugtopia in a drawing workshop; and transform into your favorite Academy animal at our face painting station.

Photos: Paul Hara/Lindsay Wildlife Experience

Mother and toddler look at California Coast exhibit during Academy Day 2023

Pay-what-you-can pricing

Science is for everyone. That’s why the Academy was proud to welcome nearly 250,000 guests last year through our affordable access programs—and why we brought back pay-what-you-can pricing for visits on Academy Day. While advance tickets for Academy Day are now sold out, check out all the affordable ways you can visit the Academy year-round.

Academy Day keychain and tote bag against green background

Pay-it-forward philanthropy

As a nonprofit, the Academy relies on contributions from supporters to ensure our animals receive excellent care, our researchers discover new species, our exhibits and programs cultivate wonder among our guests, and our educators engage curious minds of all ages. This Academy Day, all donations will go twice as far thanks to a generous matching gift from Visa. Make a gift of any size for a complimentary keychain—and give $200 or more for a chic tote bag!

Map of Academy Day events

Academy Day map and schedule

With four floors of fascinating exhibits open all day, outdoor spaces abloom with Spring in the Garden and other activities, and captivating Science Fair presentations and Classroom Talks, Academy Day will activate the entire museum—and keep you exploring all day! Click below to view event details, download our Academy Day map, and browse our Daily Calendar for a full list of the day’s public programs.

Science Fair (Piazza, 9:30 am-3 pm)

Pop in to the Piazza (Main Floor) anytime between 9:30 am and 3 pm to chat with Academy scientists, educators, curators, researchers, and more. Here’s a partial list of Science Fair participants and topics:

  • Steinhart Aquarium: Learn about ouranimal care, water quality, and scientific diving programs
  • Science Action Club: Participate in cloud observation and insect collection activities and grab a scavenger hunt and pair of eclipse glasses (while supplies last)
  • Community Science: Play some California biodiversity trivia and learn how to use iNaturalist to make wildlife observations
  • Museums4Inclusion: Make a button with M4I founder and the Academy’s Chief Operating Officer, Leah Van der Mei
  • Volunteering: See how you can get involved with the Academy’s volunteer program
  • Ornithology and Mammalogy: Learn about the marine mammals that call the Bay Area home
  • Islands 2030: Learn more about our Islands 2030 initiative by investigating insect and reptile specimens
Classroom Talks (Classroom, 10 am-2 pm)

It’s back to school time! (But in a fun way.) Take a seat in our Classroom (Level Three) for five talks on the Academy’s history, biodiversity science, Earth Month, and more.

  • 10 am: Zombie Forests: Vegetation-climate mismatch in California's Sierra Nevada (Avery Hill, PhD): In the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, many of the conifer trees that dominate forests have been left stranded in climatic conditions that are too warm and dry for long-term persistence. These “zombie forests” are prevalent at the western, lower-elevation edge of the Sierras, and precipitate significant considerations for long-term forest and wildfire management in California.
  • 11 am: Life finds a way: Navigating human-carnivore coexistence on a shared planet (Christine Wilkinson, PhD): People and carnivores live alongside one another all around the world, requiring us to find ways to coexist. From "downward-facing hyena" to Wile E. Coyote, we explore the innovation and resilience of carnivores, and discover how valuing our shared wellbeing may provide pathways to coexistence.
  • 12 pm: Viruses: The good, the bad, and the ugly (Shannon Bennett, PhD): When one thinks of the V-word these days, COVID-19 immediately comes to mind. However, long before COVID-19 reared its ugly head, we have harbored viruses. In fact, every life form on earth hosts viruses. Even viruses have viruses! Come hear about the world of viruses and be amazed that not all of them are bad!
  • 1 pm: Golden Gate Park Uncovered (Nicole Meldahl and Chelsea Sellin): The California Academy of Sciences has been in Golden Gate Park since 1916, but this 1,017 acre urban oasis has over 150 years of history. Join Nicole Meldahl and Chelsea Sellin of Western Neighborhoods Project for a lighthearted, illustrated talk that shares some nearby attractions and features (both past and present).
  • 2 pm: Untold Stories: Revealing Secrets From the Academy’s Archives (Marie Angel): Museums are rooted in colonialism and often tell a biased history that unintentionally excludes underrepresented communities. Leveraging our vast collections, Untold Stories engaged high school students to uncover and communicate the compelling histories of scientists whose contributions have been overlooked.
Other programs (Multiple locations, 9:30 am-3 pm)

Let your little ones venture into Wander Woods, marvel at enormous animatronic insects in Spring in the Garden, and enjoy an array of programs listed below:

  • 9:30 am-2 pm: Jazz on the roof (Living Roof): A jazz trio from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music will accompany the stunning views of Golden Gate Park from atop our Living Roof.
  • 10 am-12 pm: Insect illustration station (East Garden): Join a guided illustration activity using our larger-than-life insect models as inspiration.
  • 10 am-3 pm: Photo booth (Aquarium entrance): Capture your finest Academy Day Selfie to commemorate your time at the museum.
  • 11 am-2 pm: Face painting (West Garden): Transform into your favorite Academy animal with the help of our face painters.
  • 12-3 pm: Lindsay Wildlife animal presentation (East Garden): Say hello to animal ambassadors from Lindsay Wildlife Experience! Meet a pacific gopher snake, desert hairy scorpion, blue death-feigning beetles, western mastiff bat, and a barred owl.
  • 2:45 pm: Tour of the Solar System (Science Today): Our planetarium presenters guide us through our Solar System in this live show using NASA's OpenSpace software.
We thank our generous Academy Day sponsors and donors:
Blue Visa logo
Golden State Warriors Community Foundation logo


Golden State Warriors Community Foundation

Emery Family Foundation

Dr. Catherine Kennedy & Daniel Grossman