Wednesday, December 3, 2008

California Academy of Sciences

Before we made our big move we just had to make it to San Francisco one last time. It is such an amazing city and I already miss being in such close proximity to all things SF. Recently the California Academy of Sciences reopened its doors after a 3 year closure for remodeling.  It is one of the largest museums of natural history in the world and one of the oldest museums in the country.  The remodel allowed the engineers to integrate tons of environmentally friendly features into the design of the new building. These include a system which results in the production of 50 percent less wastewater, 60 thousand solar cells for electricity generation, a 2.5 acre living roof, over 20,000 cubic yards of recycled concrete, natural lighting in 90 percent of occupied spaces, one million pounds of recycled steel, and wall insulation made from scraps of recycled denim. Hopefully the example that the engineers of this museum have set will encourage others to incorporate more environmentally conscious design into their future endeavors.

We made it out to SF on a rainy Monday while my mother in law was in town and met up with our friends Amanda, Kierran, Nick, Matt, and Owen. The museum has been a mad house since it opened and I think the weather helped keep the museum only moderately crowded while we were there. 

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First we encountered the manta rays swimming in the water below us on our way to the African Hall. I love how they turned a normal walkway into a place for discovery.

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The African Hall is the only portion of the original museum that was kept intact. It features taxidermy animals from Africa and a colony of South African penguins.  It is nice to have a touch of old in a museum so cutting edge.

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From there we headed over to the Galapagos exhibit. It demonstrates how evolution can take place in such an isolated area. There was also this really cool floor that had a computer generated jungle floor on it. Little bugs would pop out from the leaves and the kids had a blast trying to stomp on them.  I think the real object was to kick the right kind of food over to the right kind of bug but we liked our version just the much.

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Another highlight of the museum is the Rainforests of the World dome. It has a spiraling path that takes you from the forest floor all the way up to the top of the tree canopy. There are beautiful tropical butterflies and birds flying free throughout the dome which resulted in plenty of "oohs" and "aahs" from the group.

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The entire bottom floor is an aquarium complete with tide pool touch tanks, bizarre alligator gars, and enormous aquariums depicting different ocean zones.

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There are plenty of things that we just didn't have time for such as the planetarium, and the weather prevented us from making it up to the living roof, but overall it was a very full day and there was something for everyone to enjoy and explore.   I would highly recommend make time for a visit the next time you are in San Francisco.



Tonya Staab said...

That place looks like tons of fun. I've added it to my places to visit when I get up that way.

Love that pic of Mari looking up.

Christy said...

Great pics! Looks like so much fun! Love the new layout!

The Romero-Schroeder said...

That one i have to visist next time im over there

debi9kids said...

What a fantastic time. LOL about the kids stomping the bugs!

Question about San Fran... do you find any of the "craziness" effects the touristy aspect of the town? Just curious...

Bre said...

That place looks AWESOME!!! I wanna gooooo....whaaaaahhhhh!!!!

Sheri said...

Such fun. Your kids will have such great stories to tell when they get older.