Annual Big Bang gala returns to the Academy on April 28, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (April 4, 2022)—The California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park will host Big Bang, the institution’s largest annual fundraiser, on Thursday, April 28. Following virtual galas in 2020 and 2021, this year’s soirée marks a joyous return to in-person events. Big Bang | Next Wave will spotlight the Academy’s Hope for Reefs initiative, diving deep into cutting-edge research, global partnerships, and powerful public engagement programs that will help save coral reefs for future generations.

The evening begins at 6:00 pm with a cocktail reception on the Music Concourse, featuring live music by The Fil Lorenz Orchestra. Guests will have the opportunity to hear details of the Academy’s Hope for Reefs initiative, including some highlights from recent fieldwork and exciting upcoming projects, from Luiz Rocha, PhD, Curator and Follett Chair of Ichthyology and co-leader of Hope for Reefs. Launched in 2016, Hope for Reefs aims to help coral reefs survive and thrive by reversing the rapid decline of Earth’s reefs within the span of a generation. The gala will serve as a launchpoint for Hope for Reefs Phase II, which takes this critical reef conservation work to scale and creates powerful pathways to set these important yet fragile ecosystems on a trajectory of resilience and regeneration in our fast-changing world.

Following his talk, Rocha will welcome environmental advocate and keynote speaker Alexandra Cousteau, who continues the legacy of her family’s ocean restoration work as co-founder of Oceans 2050. In her talk, This Blue Planet: Restoring Natural Abundance and Diversity to the Earth, Cousteau urges us to view global water issues not as a disparate collection of unrelated problems, but rather through a systems-based approach that recognizes the fundamental interconnectivity of these issues and places renewed emphasis on protecting our planet’s most vital resource. Cousteau advocates an approach that recognizes how crucial it is to preserve natural water systems while taking into account the numerous demands, threats, and developments within a generation.

After the keynote address, guests will be welcomed to a seated dinner in the museum’s Piazza, featuring a menu of locally sourced, sustainable fare by McCalls. Scott D. Sampson, PhD, Executive Director and William R. and Gretchen B. Kimball Chair, will share the Academy’s bold new mission to regenerate the natural world, and highlight the science and conservation that will be instrumental in regenerating our precious Earth.

Following dinner, a second wave of guests will arrive to join a special Dessert Reception. Guests will have the opportunity to explore the museum while sipping on creative cocktails, sample gourmet desserts from stations located throughout the museum, and enjoy festive music from DJ TOY. In the East Garden, gala-goers can play LED games, dance the night away at the silent disco, and pose in their very own magazine-style photo shoot, getting a framed print to take home as a memento of the occasion. A special fireside chat with Academy coral researcher Elora López-Nandam, PhD, and research scientist Alison Gould, PhD, is not to be missed. López-Nandam and Gould will share how they are approaching the multifaceted issue of coral reef health and conservation, diving into their current research and sharing insights on what the future of healthy, thriving reef ecosystems can look like.

Big Bang is a fundraising event to support the Academy’s new mission to regenerate the natural world through innovative programs and initiatives like Hope for Reefs. Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone at (415) 379-5411.

Event Co-Chairs Kevin and Julia Hartz and Corporate Chair Jack Forestell from Visa, Inc. invite guests to attend in dazzling cocktail attire. Big Bang is generously supported by Presenting Sponsor Autodesk and VIP Reception and Dessert Reception Sponsor Carmel Partners.

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 biodiversity science, environmental learning, and collaborative engagement—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 or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.

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