California Academy of Sciences
The California Academy of Sciences has a 160-year history of exploring, explaining, and sustaining life on our planet. In September 2008, the Academy reinvented itself in a new, LEED Platinum building in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park: the largest green building in the world open to the public and the only one to house a research institute, aquarium, natural history museum, and planetarium. We have welcomed more than 8.5 million visitors since our re-opening, offering a venue for diverse audiences of all ages to explore and connect with the natural world and the scientists who study it. The Academy’s all-digital Morrison Planetarium seats 290 people under its 75-foot-diameter dome, and although the main focus of programming is science content, the institution has a long history of supporting arts-driven media both in and out of the dome.
From 1957–59, the original Morrison Planetarium hosted the historic multimedia Vortex Concerts, organized by visual artist Jordan Belson and composer Henry Jacobs; beginning as a series of electronic music concerts accompanied by visuals, Vortex included more than 100 shows performed during its short run. Since the planetarium’s reopening, we have expanded on this theme with showings of DomeFest shorts, visual music, and live performances—among other artists, we have hosted J-Walt Adamczyk, Zoë Keating, and Kenji Williams—and the Academy collaborated on the production of The Kepler Story, a one-person play about the life of Johannes Kepler that makes use of the dome to set the play’s physical environments as well as to illustrate the main character’s inner thoughts and spiritual musings. The Academy’s popular NightLife program attracts between 2,000 and 4,000 visitors every week, with a focus on not only science but art and musical performance, offering a venue for both local creators and visiting artists. And the Academy also sponsors the First Year Students Award at the annual Jena FullDome Festival.