• Academy Day face painting
    Academy Day will include face painting, a photo booth, prizes, and other activities. © Gayle Laird
  • Academy front entrance
    The Academy hopes to raise $100,000 to support exhibits, educational programming, live animal care, and more. 
  • Riveropolis in Wander Woods.
    Academy Day will offer special pricing to expand access to every child and family. © Gayle Laird

SAN FRANCISCO, CA (March 15, 2023) — The California Academy of Sciences invites guests from the Bay Area and beyond to celebrate its 170th anniversary Tuesday, April 4, during its first-ever Academy Day—a fun and educational day of philanthropy featuring a special science fair, specimen popup booths, fun prizes, and live screen printing.

Academy Day is a new annual event designed to bring the community together to support the Academy’s long tradition of connecting families to the natural world, expanding opportunities for youth underrepresented in the sciences, and biodiversity research and exploration. The Academy has set a goal of raising $100,000 in critical funds on Academy Day to sustain our awe-inspiring exhibits and award-winning educational programming; support critical care for our more than 38,000 live animals; and advance our mission of regenerating nature through science, learning, and collaboration.

Special pay-what-you-can pricing will be offered on Academy Day while supplies last to expand access to every child and family and enable guests to show their support. Donors who contribute in person or online on Academy Day will be eligible to receive a variety of prizes, including penguin paintings, exclusive Academy Day gear, and tickets to the Academy’s Islands 2030 Big Bang: Party After Dark.

“As the oldest scientific institution in the western United States, the Academy has inspired countless millions of visitors with its vast collections of specimens and creatures, from our beloved albino alligator Claude to our mesmerizing butterflies to our towering T. rex,” said Academy Executive Director Scott Sampson. “We are excited to launch Academy Day as a way of celebrating our rich history while also showcasing the Academy’s most recent efforts to regenerate the natural world in California, on islands across the globe, and in our oceans.”

In addition to our Spring Festival activities, face painting, and a photo booth, Academy Day offerings will include:

  • Science Fair
    Dive into the science that drives our three regeneration initiatives—Hope for Reefs, Islands 2030, and Thriving California—with Academy scientists, biologists, and curators.
  • Live Screen printing with San Franpsycho
    Get a fresh tee or tote showing your support of Academy Day printed by our Inner Sunset neighbor. Donations of $170 or more will qualify for a free tote.
  • Planetarium Popup
    Join our Planetarium presenters for hands-on activities demonstrating the marvelous science that makes up our universe.

Those who are unable to visit the Academy in person on Academy Day are invited to share their fond memories in an online scrapbook at https://www.calacademy.org/steinhart-aquarium-centennial-stories.

The Academy was founded on the evening of April 4, 1853—just three years after California joined the United States—when seven men assembled in a candle-lit room in a Montgomery Street office in San Francisco to create the first scientific academy west of the Atlantic seaboard. They proposed to undertake “a thorough systematic survey of every portion of the state and the collection of a cabinet of her rare and rich productions."

Local naturalists’ fieldwork generated a growing collection of research specimens, leading to the opening of a public museum on Market Street to display these scientific treasures in 1874.

Today, the Academy welcomes more than 1 million visitors a year and is home to more than 100 scientists who study biodiversity and evolution and apply that knowledge to our efforts to regenerate the natural world.

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 scientific research and environmental education—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 www.calacademy.org or call (415) 379-8000 for more information.

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