San Francisco (September 29, 2020) — The California Academy of Sciences is planning to safely reopen its doors on Tuesday, October 13. Members and donors are invited to visit for ten days before the museum opens to the public on Friday, October 23. The Academy—part of the San Francisco community for 167 world-changing years—deeply values its local supporters and is working around the clock to prioritize the health and safety of its staff, visitors, and Bay Area neighbors. The institution’s reopening plan reflects its high bar for awe-inspiring guest experiences alongside the most up-to-date, research-backed safety recommendations from the state of California, the San Francisco Department of Public Health, the CDC, and the Academy’s own internal science advisors including Chief of Science and world-class virologist Shannon Bennett, PhD.

The Academy will reopen at 25% capacity per local and state guidelines to promote physical distancing and reduce crowding. This means a healthier, safer, extra-spacious Academy to explore! Beginning Monday, October 5, members and donors can make reservations to visit from October 13 and beyond by visiting the Academy’s website; starting Wednesday, October 14, the general public can purchase tickets and reserve entry times for Friday, October 23, and beyond. Tickets will be available for three weeks at-a-glance. Become a member to support science, enjoy unlimited admission year-round, and visit ten days before the public this October.

“It’s a joy to safely open our Academy doors,” says Academy Executive Director Scott Sampson, PhD. “People from around the world are staying connected with science through our exciting Academy @ Home programming and vibrant social media channels, but nothing replaces those jaw-dropping moments with our animals and exhibits. Safety will remain our top concern so you can focus on having fun and exploring science in Golden Gate Park.”

Up-to-date details about the Academy’s reopening and new museum procedures are available online here. Read on for highlights about our extensive health and safety updates, exciting new exhibits, and tips for planning a visit.

Online ticket reservations and timed entry
All guests, including members and donors, will be required to reserve timed-entry tickets in advance, with entry times offered in 30-minute increments. Walkup sales will not be available. All guests will be required to review important health and safety information before purchasing tickets online, and will be asked to verbally confirm their responses to a confidential health self-screening before being permitted to enter the museum.

Museum access for members, donors, and more
From Tuesday, October 13, through Thursday, October 22, the Academy is open to members and donors only, as a special thank you for their ongoing support before, during, and beyond our difficult closure.

Academy members and donors can reserve their own free timed-entry visits in advance starting Monday, October 5. As soon as the Academy opens to the public on Friday, October 23, a number of tickets will be set aside for members and donors every day, every entry time. Members and donors also rule the roost for an hour every Tuesday and Sunday morning, all year long.

As part of the Museums for All cooperative, the Academy will continue to offer $3 Daytime Admission tickets to EBT, WIC, Lifeline Pass, and Medi-Cal cardholders every day of the year. These tickets are not available online at this time; guests can simply present their cards at the ticket window to purchase $3 tickets. More information is available here.

Research-backed safety measures: What to expect
Visit for old favorites and jaw-dropping new exhibits—with a few notable changes. Academy staff, along with advice from our Chief of Science and world-class virologist Shannon Bennett, PhD, have worked tirelessly to provide delightful, safe museum experiences.

The Academy adheres to the “Three Ws:” Wear a mask, Wash your hands, Watch your distance.

In compliance with local and state public health guidelines, all staff and volunteers, and guests—ages 3 and up—will be required to wear masks at all times, unless actively eating or drinking (which is only permitted in our outdoor garden seating areas). In addition to limiting attendance, requiring masks, and promoting physical distancing, we’ve established some new “rules of the road” to help guests navigate the museum with plenty of (masked) breathing room. This includes:

  • Enhancing our cleaning and disinfection practices, and increasing air flow inside the building by using 100% outside air whenever possible
  • Regulating the quantity and pace of guests through certain spaces to promote physical distancing
  • Creating clearly marked one-way paths through areas like the Amazon Flooded Forest Tunnel and Academy Store
  • Installing prominent signage, floor decals, and other visual aids to remind guests to stay 6 feet apart at all times
  • Offering free reservations for our rainforest and Shake House—they are fast and free with a smartphone (for guests already inside the building)

Exciting new exhibits
We’ve been busy—brand-new exhibits and a new planetarium show await! Prepare to celebrate dazzling nature photography from around the world with BigPicture, featuring 49 unforgettable winning images from our annual competition. After exploring winning photos in our airy, light-filled Piazza, guests can head downstairs to explore the brand-new aquarium exhibit Venom: Fangs, Stingers, and Spines, where more than a dozen often-feared yet biologically important species use deadly venom to capture prey and defend against predators. And even though the Morrison Planetarium will remain temporarily closed, guests can still view our newest planetarium show, Big Astronomy, online from home. Explore Chile’s epic mountaintop observatories and the people that keep them running every Wednesday at 11:30 am PT via YouTube until the Morrison Planetarium reopens.

Guests will enjoy exciting new pop-up programs with our presenters and biologists throughout our building and forest-lined gardens. Grab an outdoor table to fill up on delicious, locally sourced food from our Terrace Restaurant (with touchless transactions!), and marvel at autumn views from our Living Roof. Guests are invited to travel from coral reefs to space with ongoing Academy programs—fog or shine.

Save the date to make a reservation, and learn more about what we’re doing to keep everyone safe at calacademy.org.

About the California Academy of Sciences

The California Academy of Sciences is a renowned scientific and educational institution dedicated to exploring, explaining, and sustaining life. 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 scientific research and education—all under one living roof. When opened, our 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 reopening information and daily ticket prices, please visit www.calacademy.org or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.

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