About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

28 February 2012

California Academy of Sciences

Located within the Golden Gate Park, the Academy of Sciences is a super museum encompassing natural history, botanical gardens, aquarium and a planetarium. Individually, they are not particularly big, but it is how they are integrated that makes it really cool and interesting.

For example, the botanical garden only focuses on one thing - the rain forest, and showcases an indoor rainforest (fully recreated and live with butterflies and a few birds) focusing on different aspects of the rainforest ecosystem. The rainforest leads to an aquarium, which makes up for a lack of really large sharks and dolphins with stunningly presented ecosystems including coral reefs.

The highlight for me, is the planetarium. Instead of focusing on the traditional night sky, this is a virtual exploration of the universe and it's evolution on a massively curved screen. IMAX and 3D are quite poor in the relative experience in comparison. I did miss some parts of the traditional planetarium, but the immersive experience is impressive.

The natural history section is famous for its Africa hall; full of stuffed big game species, and some live Cape Penguins. It made me realist how lucky we are in SA that I regularly hike amongst impala, giraffes and zebra and penguins are a minor attraction amongst other things to do in Simonstown (let alone Cape Town).

The last thing to note about the museum, is that the architecture itself is an attraction. It is at the forefront of Green building techniques, with a living roof and solar panels etc. What is especially impressive is how the building management is automated, by taking account of outside weather conditions.

(Clicking on an image will enlarge it slightly)

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