BigPicture NightLife

Heads up! Proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of a scheduled visit is now required for all Academy guests ages 12+. View our vaccination policy and health and safety details here.

All NightLife guests must reserve timed-entry tickets online in advance. Members, please log in after adding tickets to your cart to receive your discount.

Please note that the last entry into the rainforest exhibit is 7:30 pm—our animals need their sleep!

NightLife is 21+ with ID, from 6-10 pm.

Featuring DJ King Most

Good nature photography makes you wish you were there, and NightLife: BigPicture will make you feel like you are. Celebrate some of the world’s best wildlife and conservation photography with a special sneak peek at the new BigPicture: Natural World Photographyexhibit. Featuring 49 top images from over 8,000 submissions from around the globe, the exhibit highlights Earth’s biodiversity, illustrates the many threats our planet faces, and underscores the importance of protecting, conserving, and regenerating the natural world.

Join photographer Jo-Anne McArthur, whose stunning image of a kangaroo and her joey in a burned plantation earned her the 2021 BigPicture Grand Prize, and Academy Chief of Science Shannon Bennett in a conversation exploring animal sentience and human interaction with animals and nature.

If you’ve ever wondered what’s going on inside the brain of a photographer, don’t miss neuroscientist, opera singer, and science enthusiast Indre Viskontas as she drills down into the neuroscience behind imagery and photography, exploring science and creativity in a talk with Q&A to follow.

Channel your inspiration, tap into your inner photographer, and add your perspective to the evening with the NightLife x BigPicture photography competition. Guests are invited to take photos inspired by BigPicture themes as they enjoy the museum during NightLife, and vote for their favorite crowd-submitted images. The grand prize winner, chosen by popular vote, will win a complimentary year of NightLife admission for two. Additional prizes will be awarded to category winners.


A few don't-miss details:

  • To help keep guests safe and ensure everyone has plenty of room to roam, NightLife will be limiting capacity and have timed-entry tickets.
  • Last entry into the rainforest exhibit is 7:30 pm—our animals need their sleep.
  • Morrison Planetarium will be open during NightLife as of July 15 with 4 showtimes. To maximize staff and guest safety, reservations are required and capacity is limited. Reservations are first-come, first served—simply scan the QR code posted in the front lobby upon arrival to make your reservation.

    Please note: food and drink are not permitted inside the planetarium, and masks must be worn properly at all times.

  • Food and beverages are available for purchase in the Academy Café and West Garden Terrace including a variety of grab-and-go options, craft cocktails, and more. All food and drink must be enjoyed outdoors.
  • Please embrace the Academy’s three favorite Ws: Wear a mask, Wash your hands, and Watch your distance. All guests will be required to wear a mask and social distancing will be enforced according to the latest public health and safety guidelines.
  • NightLife is adults-only for 21+
  • Still have Q’s? See our FAQ’s here.


Planetarium Shows

6:30 pm, 7:30 pm

Explore the immense scale of the known Universe in this live presentation that leaves Earth far behind.

8:30 pm, 9:30 pm

How did Earth become a living planet in the wake of our Solar System’s violent birth? Capacity is limited!

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Upcoming ticketed museum events

October 28th at 6:00 pm

Get into costume and come ready to enjoy creepy science specimens, a costume contest, and Halloween drag show!

November 4th at 6:00 pm

See what’s revealed once the sun goes down and explore the nocturnal side of the Academy. For adults 21+.

November 11th at 6:00 pm

Learn about all things luminous in a night of neon, including the science behind neon and the art it inspires.

November 18th at 6:00 pm

Explore the Academy at night alongside nearly 40,000 live animals. For adults 21+.

Upcoming free virtual events

November 4th at 7:00 pm

Bioluminescence experts shed light on the inner workings of nature’s glow, from land to sea.