Dear VIP Tour guests: The health and safety of our guests, staff, and community always come first. In response to the latest coronavirus (COVID-19) guidelines from local and state public health authorities, the Academy is currently temporarily closed to the public. We apologize for the inconvenience and look forward to welcoming you back to the museum when it is safe to do so.

Learn more about the Academy's response to COVID-19, and explore how you can enjoy Academy science from home.

About the tour

Tour guests explore Academy collections during their Behind-the-Scenes tour.

See how the world's greenest museum works as you spend an hour behind the scenes learning more about the institution’s 160-year history and what it takes to house nearly 46 million specimens.

On your tour, you'll visit the research collections and private gem vault—not on view to the public—and develop an appreciation for our vast library of life, which includes amazing specimens from our ichthyology (fish), entomology (insects), and ornithology (birds) departments.

VIP Tour perks:

  • One-hour guided tour

  • Behind-the-scenes access

  • Express entry into the museum, Osher Rainforest, and earthquake simulator

  • Reserved space in the planetarium

  • 10% discount at Academy stores and restaurants

Please note: Guests must be age 8 or older to participate, and guests between the ages of 8 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult. Each tour is limited to 14 guests. Daytime Admission ticket required for public entry into the museum.


Tour FAQ

Can I just take a tour and not buy Daytime Admission tickets?

No, Daytime Admission tickets are required to enter the building. Academy members do not need to purchase Daytime Admission tickets.

What if I'm running late?

Tours run on schedule, so please arrive early to check in! Refunds will not be given to no-shows or guests who arrive after the tour has left.

Is the tour accessible?

VIP Tours involve a substantial amount of walking, but all are ADA accessible.

While we cannot accommodate service animals on the tour, we are happy to offer a crated area for them.

What should I bring?

Please wear comfortable shoes and clothing appropriate for indoor and outdoor environments. You may encounter uneven surfaces, slick spots, or inclement weather on the tour.

Can I request to see a specific scientific collections room?

You can always ask your tour guide, but we cannot guarantee that specific collections rooms or areas will be open to the public.

Can I bring a large group on a tour?

Absolutely! You can book a tour for up to 14 guests online, but we ask that you give us a heads-up in advance if you’re bringing 15 or more guests. Please complete this brief form and we’ll be in touch.

Please note: A 50% non-refundable deposit is due at the time of booking to reserve group tickets of 10 or more. Your total balance is due 30 days prior to your tour date. If you are booking a tour within 30 days of your tour date full payment is due at the time of booking. Cancellations occurring 30 days or more prior to tour date, will receive a full refund minus the deposit.

Bringing a Large Group?

Please complete this form if your group has 15 or more guests and we'll follow up.