By TERESA HAMMOND
Culture, creativity and a beautiful concourse are what one will find at the center of the east side of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
Located just a handful of steps apart, the de Young Museum and the California Academy of Sciences offer visitors hours or potentially days of opportunity in terms of education, entertainment and just plain fun. Separated by the San Francisco Music Concourse and surrounded by the greenery of the Golden Gate Park, both historical locations are well suited for this area of San Francisco.
First established in 1893, the California Academy of Sciences is among the world’s largest natural history museum, covering over 400,000 square feet and occupied by over 26 million specimens. The spacious building includes the Kimball Natural History Museum, Morrison Planetarium, Rainforests of the World and the Steinhart Aquarium in the lower level of the building.
The roof of the building features a living roof that was initially planted with 1.7 million native California plants, as well as a number of environmentally friendly features. Looking up from the museum’s central piazza one can see the massive glass ceiling of the roof which may open to allow in cool air.
Upon first entering the state of the art facility, one is greeted by two large structures to the right and left sides. The Planetarium to the left features a large digital dome serving as a gateway to understanding space, the planet and universe. This must-see attraction offers shows throughout the day in a calm and transformative setting. The Rainforest to the right is an enclosed exhibit allowing visitors to wander through a 90-foot glass dome. Traveling through the space visitors are greeted by macaws, butterflies of varying species, reptiles, tree frogs and more. As one reaches the top of the exhibit an elevator ride to the Lower Level finds you at the entrance of the Steinhart Aquarium.
The Steinhart Aquarium includes coral reef, vibrant marine life of the California coast, as well as an underwater tunnel with fish and turtles swimming overhead. The discovery tidepool area is ideal for visitors interested in an interactive, hands-on experience.
One could easily lose a day in the museum as they meander through these varying areas, as well as a host of others filled with information and fascinating facts.
Just across the music concourse, visitors are greeted by the ultra-modern exterior of the de Young Museum.
Just a few years younger than the Academy, the de Young first opened in 1895. The expansive 293,000 square foot building is home to a vast array of permanent collections, as well as temporary exhibitions, garden areas and a 2,500 square foot observation tower located at the highest point of the building.
Collections of American art from the 18th through 21st century, Art of Africa, Art of the Oceania and Art of the Americas are permanent showcases of the de Young.
The American Art collection includes over 1,000 paintings, 800 sculptures and thousands of decorative art objects. The works range in era from 1670 to present day. The collection represents the most comprehensive collection of American art.
The de Young is also home to an ongoing rotation of Special Exhibitions, giving the museum a freshness that may prompt one to return for multiple visits. Information on current and upcoming Special Exhibitions can be found on the website https://deyoung.famsf.org/. Hours of operation as well as admission information and special events may also be found there.
For information on the California Academy of Sciences, visit www.calacademy.org.