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What’s Happening at The Nat June through August 2018

May 25, 2018

Nat at Night is underway, new edition of the Secret Society of Adultologists, two new 3D films open in the SUBARU 3D Experience, and Nat Talks season continues


The Nat has created a special new space for young, curious minds up to the kindergarten age. This summer, little learners can expand their horizons in The Backyard, an all-new exhibit space where our youngest visitors can explore the natural world through play. Vibrant exhibit décor will bring urban San Diego to life by depicting a quintessential backyard oasis where people and wildlife share space and live together. The Backyard will provide a safe space for children five and under to enjoy some good old natural history recreation. Learn more.


Kick off your weekends at The Nat this summer. The Museum will be open until 8 PM on Fridays from Memorial Day weekend to Labor Day weekend, with half-price admission after 5 PM. The Museum is packed with immersive exhibitions, incredible new 3D nature documentaries, and pop-up programming on select dates. New this year is a rooftop bar that offers one of the best views in the Park and weekly trivia competitions. The bar is open to all visitors and will serve beer, wine, non-alcoholic drinks including kids’ beverages, and grab-and-go options. Learn more about Nat at Night offerings. Hours subject to change.

These evenings are part of Friday Night Alive, where two fan favorite events come together for one terrific evening each week. Extended evening hours at select museums and Food Truck Friday combine for a rich night of live entertainment, evening hours at several popular museums, hands-on creative projects, and a rotating assortment of food truck cuisine. Learn more about all the activities happening this summer in Balboa Park.


Saturday, June 16, 7-10 PM

Camp without the counselors? Yep. This edition of The Secret Society of Adultologists will allow you to relive your favorite memories of summer camp, except this time the food is good, the staff is nice, and there is science and beer. Museum scientists will share rattlesnakes and spiders from our collections. Our rooftop bar will serve specialty cocktails and an exclusive IPA from Thorn Brewing. Activities include Nerf archery, color war, friendship bracelet making, and so much more. A full list of programs and activities is available online.


Oceans: Our Blue Planet—Opens May 29

Oceans: Our Blue Planet by BBC Earth takes us on a global odyssey to discover the largest and least explored habitat on earth. New ocean science and technology has allowed us to go further into the unknown than we ever thought possible. From the coastal shallows to deeper, more mysterious worlds, we reveal the untold stories of the oceans’ most astonishing creatures. Watch trailer.

Backyard Wilderness—Opens August 1

Learn about the unexpected wonders of nature that are right under our noses—in our own backyards. Spanning a seasonal year around a suburban home, Backyard Wilderness displays a stunning array of unique wildlife images and behavior. Viewers follow Katie, a young girl, and her modern family living next to the woods who are blind to the real-life spectacle around them, until Katie discovers the intricate secrets that nature has hidden so close to her front door. Watch trailer.

Films in the SUBARU 3D Experience in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater are free with paid general admission (except on Residents’ Free Tuesdays), Balboa Park Explorer Passes, Go San Diego Cards, and for Museum members. Film schedule and trailers online here.


Nat Talks feature Museum scientists and experts from around the country. These thought-provoking and engaging talks focus on the latest in scientific research, conservation, biodiversity, and the natural world at large. Nat Talks take place in the SUBARU 3D Experience in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater and are made possible with generous support from media partner KPBS.

Unnatural Selection: Evolution at the Hand of Man

Tuesday, June 19, 7 PM

Author and illustrator Katrina Van Grouw will speak about her work celebrating Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution. When Darwin contemplated how best to introduce his controversial new theory of evolution to the masses, he chose to compare it with the selective breeding of domesticated animals. In her new book, Unnatural Selection, which marks the 150th anniversary of Darwin’s great work on domesticated animals in The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication, Katrina explains why this analogy was more appropriate than even Darwin had realized. Artificial selection is, in fact, more than just an analogy for natural selection—it is the perfect example of evolution in action.

The New Nature Movement with Richard Louv

Tuesday, July 10, 7 PM

There's no denying the benefits of the Internet, but electronic immersion without a force to balance it creates a hole in the boat, draining our ability to pay attention, think clearly, and be productive and creative. To combat these losses, our society seems to look everywhere but the natural domain for the building of better brains. In this talk, Richard Louv, journalist and author of nine books, including Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder will argue that the more high-tech our lives become, the more nature we need.

Amazing Arachnids

Tuesday, August 14, 7 PM

Arachnids are full of surprises. Scorpions kiss and dance, spitting spiders squirt silk and glue, and vinegaroons spray almost pure acetic acid from their rear ends. At this Nat Talk, Jillian Cowles, author of Amazing Arachnids, will use stunning photographs to show the staggering array of survival strategies that her favorite creatures have developed as they have evolved over the past 400 million years. The southwestern United States is home to a rich diversity of amazing arachnids. Among their ranks are the tough, the resourceful, the beautiful, and the dangerous. Getting to know these small neighbors, which share our planet (and sometimes our homes), is immensely rewarding and never dull. Book signing to follow the talk.

Tickets for all Nat Talks can be purchased online, by phone at 877.946.7797, or in person at the Museum’s admissions desk. Doors open at 5:30 PM giving guests the opportunity to come enjoy a bite or a beverage in The Flying Squirrel Café before the talk begins. Each lecture begins at 7 PM. 


Summer Camp

Inject some fun and science into your summer break. The Nat offers full-day experiences for campers in grades 1–10 and half-day camps for pre-K and Kindergarten from June 18 to August 17. Registration is now open. Learn more.

ASD Mornings

ASD Mornings serves the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community by opening the Museum one hour early (at 9 AM) for adults and children on the autism spectrum and their families, friends, and caregivers. This innovative program encourages individuals to explore, play, and discover the treasures The Nat has to offer in an environment that is comfortable for them. General admission rates apply.

Every second Sunday:

  • June 10
  • July 8
  • August 12

Nature & Me Storytime

Calling all budding naturalists! Come enjoy an imaginative journey into nature through dynamic readings and visits to exhibitions. Nature & Me Storytime, now being offered in our permanent exhibition Extraordinary Ideas, is held every second Thursday at 10:15 AM. Open to all ages with a parent or guardian, but recommended for ages 1-5. Free with paid admission and always free for Museum members.

Upcoming dates and themes:

  • June 14: Insects
  • July 12: Backyard Buddies
  • August 9: Beach Day

Click here or call 877.946.7797 Monday through Friday from 10 AM to 5 PM for more information on The Nat’s family programs.


Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage

The Museum has many fascinating specimens in storage that have never been on display—until now. Unshelved: Cool Stuff from Storage offers visitors a rare “backstage” glimpse of the Museum’s storage areas. Specimens arranged on shelves and in cases offer the opportunity to revel in the natural world in all its beauty and strangeness. Learn more.

Baja’s Wild Side

Baja’s Wild Side features the breathtaking photography of shark expert and Scripps marine biologist Dr. Dan Cartamil as he explores Baja California’s Pacific coast region. This exhibition chronicles a fragile paradise of remote and hauntingly beautiful landscapes, wildlife, and ancient rock art—on the verge of being taken over by modern civilization. Dr. Daniel Cartamil is a shark expert based at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. With more than 20 years of experience as a marine biologist, Cartamil is also an adventure photographer, environmental consultant, and avid conservationist. This exhibition is included with paid admission and free for members. Learn more.

The Cerutti Mastodon Discovery

An Ice Age paleontological-turned-archaeological site in San Diego excavated by Museum staff preserves 130,000-year-old mastodon bones, molars, and tusks that show evidence of modification by early humans. Analysis of these finds dramatically revises the timeline for when humans first reached the Americas, according to a paper published in the April 27, 2017 issue of the prestigious science journal Nature. This display is located between Fossil Mysteries and Coast to Cactus in Southern California on Level 2. Learn more.

Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science

Located in the new Eleanor and Jerome Navarra Special Collections Gallery, Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science features approximately 70 rare books, works of art, and photographs from the Research Library’s 56,000-volume collection that demonstrate how everyone can participate in science. Exhibit elements include plant and animal specimens, touchscreen interactives, and touchable models. Visitors to Extraordinary Ideas will see a substantial change after August 2018. Precious objects and books that have been on display over the past two years must be allowed to rest, which also gives us the opportunity to share new items. We are featuring seven never-before-displayed rare books, objects, specimens, and video to expand upon our theme of the significance of citizen science in natural history. Some of the new features include Kate Sessions’ own herbarium from her 14th birthday, images of the largest salamander in the world that can reach five feet long, and a rotating display of beautiful historical maps of San Diego and other areas. Learn more.

Coast to Cactus in Southern California

San Diego is known for its incredibly diverse terrain, ranging from the beaches and chaparral near the coast, to the mountains and the desert farther afield. This terrain is what makes the region one of only 35 biodiversity hotspots in the world, areas that have the highest concentration of different species of any geographic area of similar size. Coast to Cactus in Southern California illustrates that richness by taking visitors on a journey through these habitats and the plants and animals that live in them. Learn more.

Fossil Mysteries

From dinosaurs to mammoths, discover the rich fossil history of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California. Visitors can play the role of paleontologist: ponder a mystery, examine the strong fossil evidence from the Museum’s collection, and use scientific tools to discover answers. Traveling through a 75-million-year timeline, from the age of dinosaurs to the Ice Ages, experience an unfolding of the prehistory of southern California and the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico. Learn more


This exhibition contains nearly 200 skulls from the Museum’s research collection of animals from all over the world, from the tiny to the spectacular. Mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians are all on display, showcasing an eye-popping array of horns, beaks, bills, teeth, and more. Learn more.

Water: A California Story

Learn about current, local issues on land and in the ocean. Examine the infrastructure of the regional water system, and discover how we import the majority of the water we use in this region and the costs associated with this practice. Water: A California Story also looks at effects of a changing climate on the region’s water supply and reveals how southern Californians can help protect water for future generations. Learn more.

All ongoing exhibitions are included with paid admission and free for members. Click here for more information on current exhibitions.


Ocean Oasis 2D—Ongoing

Produced by the San Diego Natural History Museum, Summerhays Films, and PRONATURA A.C., Ocean Oasis takes viewers on a fascinating journey into two remarkably different but inextricably linked worlds—Mexico’s beautiful Sea of Cortés and the Baja California desert. Witness the beauty of life in Baja California’s rich waters and seemingly barren land. Ocean Oasis is the winner of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and the International Wildscreen Film Festival. Watch trailer.

Incredible Predators 3D—Closes May 28

Incredible Predators takes a detailed look at the remarkable strategies Planet Earth’s top hunters use to succeed and deconstructs their tactics like never before. Advanced filming techniques, including the latest gyro-stabilized cameras, put the audience right beside the predators as they hunt, whether on land or under the sea. Watch trailer.


Canyoneer Nature Walks

Through June 24, 2018

There are only a few weeks left of the 2017-2018 Canyoneers season. Take a walk on the wild side with our Museum-trained naturalists. Canyoneers provide a unique opportunity to explore the wild places of San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial counties, highlighting the rich biodiversity of our region. To view a list of these free hikes on our interactive map or to learn more about the history of this longtime public program, visit our website. The Canyoneers program is made possible with support from Subaru of America.

Blue Whale Watching Cruises

June 29-Early September

The San Diego Natural History Museum collaborates with Hornblower Cruises and Events to provide an unparalleled opportunity to experience blue whale watching off the San Diego coast. Experienced Hornblower captains and the Museum Whalers, museum-trained naturalists, narrate each blue whale watching cruise. These 3.5-hour excursions are great for guests of all ages. Come meet some of nature’s largest animals and enjoy a day on the water with family and friends. Learn more


The Flying Squirrel Café, located in the Atrium on Level 1, provides visitors with a unique and fresh dining experience. We serve brewed-to-order espresso drinks and California casual fare including salads, sandwiches, wraps, and more. The café is open daily from 10 AM to 4 PM with the entrance on the north side of the building by the giant fig tree. View menu.

About the San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)

The San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat) is the second oldest scientific institution in California and the third oldest west of the Mississippi. Founded in 1874 by a small group of citizen scientists, the Museum’s mission is to interpret the natural world through research, education, and exhibits; to promote understanding of the evolution and diversity of Southern California and the peninsula of Baja California, Mexico; and to inspire in all a respect for nature and the environment. The Museum is located at 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101 in Balboa Park and is open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM. For more information, call 877.946.7797 or visit To stay up to date on Museum news, follow The Nat on Instagram and Twitter and join the discussion on Facebook.



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