Monday, November 17, 2008

California Academy of Sciences

On Sunday, the weekend before last, Anil and I got a great idea to go to the new California Academy of Sciences museum in Golden Gate Park. Around the same time, several thousands of other people got the same idea as we did. And we all met in front of the museum.

People wanting to visit the museum formed four lines:

  1. general admission - for the people who already bought their tickets (either online or at the spot)
  2. members admission
  3. line for the ones who wanted to buy a membership
  4. line for the people who wanted to buy a single admission ticket

All in all, there must have been easily at least thousand people standing in those lanes. Most of them in line number 1, the least in line number 2. So Anil and I decided to skip the museum on that day and return on the next weekend, that time with a membership card in our hand, hoping that thanks to it we would not have to waste time standing in line. Another benefit of being a member of California Academy of Sciences is that the museum has members-only hours (Tuesdays: 8:30 am - 9:30 am, Sundays: 10:00 am - 11:00 am) during which it is less crowded.

Last Sunday we showed up at 10 am at the museum and after relatively short wait we were let in. The first thing that we did, was to go to the planetarium and get passes for a movie ("Fragile Planet") screened there. It seems you have to do that imediately after entering the museum if you want to have a shot at seeing it, as when we were leaving the museum around 12:30 there were no movie passes left for the rest of the day. Both Anil and I enjoyed the movie, though I have to say that the information content of it was very basic. Still, the high-quality visual effects were fully compensating for that. We also enjoyed visiting museum's aquarium - as you can see on the photos below it has a nice collection of interesting and colorful water animals. We did not manage to see Rainforest exhibition, as the line to get into it was insanely long. According to many people, this exhibit is the best in the whole museum, so I will try to visit it some time soon. I was very disappointed with African Hall, which, with the exception of African penguins, has only stuffed animals on display. The very idea of looking at stuffed animals is repelling to me. Especially, that you could go to a zoo and see them all alive...

Anyway, I think the new museum has a lot to offer and I plan to visit it again after all the hype around it ceases down. My experience of the museum was definitely negatively influenced by the excessive number of people visiting it. So, if you plan to visit the museum, I would recommend waiting a few more months and going there during the week, preferably during members-only hours .

The new home to California Academy of Sciences museum:

It's famous living roof:

View from the roof to the de Young Museum, located just few steps away from California Academy of Sciences building:

Inside California Academy of Sciences building:

An albino alligator, one of the museum's highlights:

Colorful fish (and other animals) at the aquarium:

Can you spot an animal on this photo?

How about here?

This frog redefines "living on the edge":