Academy of Sciences Museum - January 2009

While President Obama was being inaugurated yesterday, we were at the Academy of Sciences museum in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. We'd thought about visiting this relatively new museum a couple times before, but were put off by others telling us of long lines and their own web site providing Insider Tips telling you to arrive late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds. It also didn't inspire hope when the tickets you could buy via the web were sold out two days in advance.

Yesterday though, Duncan has a "teachers day" at school, so I took vacation and we arrived just as it was opening at 9:30am. We couldn't have picked a better day to do this. The lines were short to non-existent. We quickly picked up passes for the Bugs 3D show and the Planetarium and then went off to visit the other exhibits until those shows started.

There were a few "wow!" moments during the Buys 3D show. An even bigger wow moment, is the new Morrison Planetarium, which is a must-see.

"It's the largest all-digital planetarium in the world. State-of-the-art projector and software technologies allow the planetarium to produce the most accurate and interactive digital Universe ever created."

It can even induce vertigo, which admittedly isn't hard to do for me nowadays. A nice touch was taking the time at the end of the normal presentation to describe the latest findings (in the last few weeks) on exoplanets. I got to visit the London Planetarium when I was 9, which was state-of-the-art at the time. This is one or more orders of magnitude better.

And so much more to see. See their web site for more details. The images above will give you some ideas. See if you can work out which animals were alive, stuffed or painted (or in one case, made out of Fimo clay).

A couple insider tips of my own, now we've been:

  • If you want to eat and save money, consider bringing your own packed lunch. Maybe we just made a bad choice yesterday, but our meals from their cafe, were poor quality and expensive.

  • If you park your car in their underground car park, note that you don't have to pay at the under-manned cashiers office. You can also pay at the exit barrier.

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