Explore San Francisco

Explore Color of Life, California Academy of Sciences' New Mega-Exhibit

Crack nature’s mysterious color code at San Francisco's state-of-the-art science museum.

Lush, multisensory and high-tech, the new mega-exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences, Color of Life, is one of the museum’s largest yet. The show explores how color in nature can provide camouflage, attract mates or prey, ward off predators and communicate within and across species. With a collection of almost 46 million scientific specimens, the academy is an authority on biodiversity, and this exhibit uses color as the lens to showcase the institution’s global field research.

Color of Life. (©California Academy of Sciences)
(©California Academy of Sciences)

The academy invests years of planning and millions of dollars putting together a major, multi-year exhibit like this. Sophisticated video, audio and touch screens spread across 8,000 square feet immerse visitors in the staggering diversity of life on earth, from the ocean floors to treetop canopies, all in a kid-accessible voice. Peek through binoculars to view a garden from a bee’s perspective. Watch video footage showing how a python visualizes small mammals via infrared heat. Try to keep up with a bird in a Dance Dance Revolution-reminiscent game. Pluck multi-colored strings to activate flat screens that play fascinating images and video of animals of the corresponding color.


Green tree python turn from vibrant yellow to green as they mature. (©California Academy of Sciences)
Green tree pythons turn from vibrant yellow to green as they mature. (©California Academy of Sciences)

But it’s the live animals that steal the show—flitting Gouldian finches, leaf-imitating insects, green tree pythons, Riggenbach’s reed frogs and a color-shifting Hawaiian day octopus all demonstrate the mind-bending ways color governs the animal kingdom.

55 Music Concourse Dr., San Francisco, 415.379.8000.