What's Happening at The Nat May through August 2016

May 5, 2016

New exhibition in renovated Research Library space opens, A Reef Reborn 3D joins the giant-screen theater film lineup, Canyoneer Nature Walks season ends, and Summer Camp begins


NOW OPEN! Special Exhibition—Whales: Giants of the Deep (Through September 5, 2016)

At 7,000 square feet, Whales: Giants of the Deep showcases amazing and rare specimens from the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa’s whale collection, one of the largest in the world. Visitors can see life-size and scale models of whales common to the South Pacific as well as contemporary whalebone treasures such as weapons and chiefly adornments. They’ll also learn about whale biology, the evolutionary journey of whales from land to sea, and the history of whaling in New Zealand. Through this exhibition, adults and children alike will gain new perspectives of these majestic underwater giants. Included with general admission. Learn more.

NOW OPEN! Photography Exhibition—Best of Nature Photography Show 2016 (Through August 21, 2016)

The Best of Nature 2016 Photography Show will be on view in The Ordover Gallery on Level 4 of the San Diego Natural History Museum from April 30 through August 21, 2016. View magnificent nature-based imagery by amateur and professional photographers from San Diego and around the globe. In February 2016, photographers were invited to enter this juried photography competition for their chance to win prizes totaling $2,500. The winners will be announced at the opening reception on Saturday, April 30 from 11 AM to 2 PM. Best of Nature features more than 70 stunning works by 52 photographers, chosen from more than 1,200 entries. The images on display depict gorgeous landscapes and majestic creatures in their natural habitats. Learn more.

COMING SOON! Ongoing Exhibition—Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science (Opening August 2016)

For decades, our Research Library has quietly existed behind a pair of forbidding doors on Level 3 of the Museum. This summer, the renovated space will be opened to the public and will feature a new exhibition titled Extraordinary Ideas from Ordinary People: A History of Citizen Science located in the Eleanor and Jerome Navarra Special Collections Gallery. This new, permanent exhibition revolves around the history—and the future—of citizen science, highlighting early naturalists and the impact their work and observations had on science as we know it today. Rare books, works of art, photographs, maps, and historical documents from our Research Library will be displayed alongside plant and animal specimens and brought to life through multimedia, hands-on interactives, touchable models, and participatory experiences. In addition to Extraordinary Ideas, two galleries with rotating displays will be featured: The Dragon’s Den and an art gallery showcasing stunning watercolors by A.R. Valentien. Learn more.

Ongoing Exhibition—Coast to Cactus in Southern California

Coast to Cactus in Southern California, a new immersive, permanent exhibition is now on view at the San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT). 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, meaning 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.

Ongoing Exhibition—Fossil Mysteries

From dinosaurs to mammoths, discover the rich fossil history of our region. In this major exhibition created by the Museum, 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. Major funding provided by the California Cultural and Historic Endowment; National Science Foundation; Stephen and Mary Birch Foundation. Learn more.

Ongoing ExhibitionSkulls

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. Have a question about a skull? Use the Skulls chalkboard to ask, or get creative and draw your own skull. Learn more.

Ongoing ExhibitionWater: A California Story

Through photos, maps, video, and hands-on activities, 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 our water and the costs associated with this practice. Water: A California Story also looks at effects of a changing climate on our region’s water supply and reveals how southern Californians can help protect water for future generations. Natural history specimens and live animals serve as reminders that the natural environment and its inhabitants are also legitimate users of water resources. Learn more.

Click here for more information on our current exhibitions.



SOLD OUT! Dinosaurs of the Past, the Present, and the Future

Wednesday, June 1, 7 PM

Join us for an evening with renowned paleontologist Jack Horner. This NATtalk will address how dinosaurs have been perceived in the past, how we envision them now, and how we will see them in the future. Horner will examine how preconceived ideas about animal classification have shaped these thoughts. He also discusses efforts to create a living dinosaur.

Tickets are sold out for this program. Museum doors will open at 6 PM, with the lecture beginning at 7 PM. Horner will host a book signing for his book, How to Build a Dinosaur, after the lecture. Books are available for purchase online and in the Museum store. If you would like to purchase your copy by phone, please call 619.255.0239.

North Pacific Gray Whale Research and Conservation: 40 Years and Counting

Tuesday, July 12, 7 PM

Southern California sees gray whales twice a year as they migrate to and from the breeding grounds of the Baja peninsula to colder northern waters. La Jolla, California-based gray whale scientists Dave Weller, Aímee Lang, and Jim Carretta will share their extensive expertise on gray whale life, status and science in concert with three short films highlighting gray whale research and conservation. Audience members can participate in a Q&A session about their fascinating research conducted on local shores and across the Pacific Ocean. 

Tickets are $9 for members and $12 for non-members. Museum doors will open at 6:15 PM, with the lecture beginning at 7 PM.

For more information on NATtalks or to purchase tickets, please visit our website.

Balboa Park After Dark (May 27 through September 2)

This summer, Balboa Park comes alive after 5. On Fridays from May 27 to September 2, arts and culture buffs can enjoy extended evening hours at 10 museums. Balboa Park After Dark, a new initiative in the Park, will nicely complement Food Truck Fridays as it will be keeping nine museums open until 8 PM or later. Additional days of the week being offered at The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA), who will continue to offer extended evening hours on Thursdays, and the San Diego Museum of Man who will stay open until 8:30 PM every night this summer.

Visitors to theNAT can access all exhibitions within the Museum—including Whales: Giants of the Deep, which is at the Museum through Labor Day. We will also be offering evening showtimes for our films, including Whales 3D, A Reef Reborn 3D, and Ocean Oasis. Standard admission rates apply ($11-19), although Museum members and Balboa Park Explorers are free.

Fossil Week (May 27 through June 3)

To help celebrate the 25th anniversary and retirement of our President and CEO Dr. Michael “Mick” Hager, we’re hosting a variety of events Friday, May 27 through Friday, June 3. The programs featured during this time all share one common theme, dinosaurs, which is fitting as we lovingly refer to Mick as our “Chief Fossil.” A few of the programs we have planned include, Dino-mite Family Day, docent-led tours of Fossil Mysteries, and a special NATtalk with renowned paleontologist Jack Horner (sold out). Come to one or come to all! Our website will be updated soon with additional programming details.

Blue Whale Watching Cruises (June 24 through September 5)

As part of our mission “to inspire in all a respect for nature and the environment,” the San Diego Natural History Museum partners with Hornblower Cruises and Events to provide an unparalleled opportunity to experience gray whale watching off the San Diego coast. Tickets for daily blue whale watching cruises are available at the Museum’s Admissions Desk, by phone at 877.946.7797, or via email at customerservice@sdnhm.org. By purchasing your tickets through theNAT, you will receive discounts off retail prices while also supporting the Museum’s mission and programming. Learn more.

Canyoneer Nature Walks (Through June 26)

Take a walk on the wild side with our Museum-trained naturalists the Canyoneers. On these free, guided nature walks, hikers are encouraged to stop, look, listen, smell, and examine—revealing that all ecosystems are interconnected. 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 available hikes or to learn more about the history of this longtime public program, click here.


Summer Camp

Registration is now open and spots are still available! Join the San Diego Natural History Museum for a summer of science, fun, and friendship. We offer half-day experiences June 24 through August 26 for Pre-K and Kindergarteners and full-day camps for grades 1-8. Come learn about dinosaurs, reptiles, sea creatures, and more. Our talented summer camp staff and volunteers will make sure your child has a memorable experience and walks away with a rejuvenated interest in the natural world. Click here for more information or to register today.

Family Days

The San Diego Natural History Museum hosts monthly Family Days celebrating new exhibitions and fascinating natural science themes. Hosted by our Education Department, participants will conduct experiments, make a craft to take home, and provide a variety of extra activities for a fun and educational family experience. Family Days run from 11 AM to 3 PM, are free with paid admission, and always free for Museum members.

Upcoming Family Day:

  • Monday, May 30: Dino-mite Family Day with Special Guest (Dr. Hager)
    • As a part of Fossil Week, Dr. Hager will be mingling with guests at this dinosaur-themed family day. Come meet Mick and explore your love for all things dinosaurs. Go on a scavenger hunt, try your hand at our dinosaur science games, and create dinosaur-inspired art to take home. It’ll be the most fun you’ve had in 75 million years!

Note: This program will be on hiatus June through August with the next Family Day scheduled for September 5.

ASD Mornings

ASD Mornings take place the second Sunday of every month. This program is designed by the San Diego Natural History Museum for the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) community. Once-a- month the Museum opens 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 Museum has to offer in an environment that is comfortable for them. General admission rates apply.

Upcoming dates:

  • May 8, 2016
  • June 12, 2016
  • July 10, 2016
  • August 14, 2016

Wacky Science Sundays with Ms. Frizzle and The Magic School Bus©

Get ready to explore the wild and wacky worlds of mysterious creatures, fascinating habitats, and phenomenal hands-on science. Join us at the Museum every Sunday at 12:15 and 2:15 PM for live performances by Ms. Frizzle. Free with paid admission and always free for Museum members.

Upcoming themes:

  • May: Butterflies
  • June: Mountains
  • July: Coyotes
  • August: Geology

Scholastic, The Magic School Bus, Ms. Frizzle, and logos are trademarks of Scholastic Inc. 2003 Inc. All rights reserved.

Nature & Me Storytime

Calling all budding naturalists! Come enjoy an imaginative journey into nature through dynamic readings and visits to exhibitions. Nature & Me Storytime is the second Thursday of every month at 10:15 AM. Open to all ages with a parent or guardian (recommended for ages 15). Free with paid admission and always free for Museum members.

Upcoming dates and themes:

  • May 12: Nature's Babies
  • June 9: Dinosaurs
  • July 14: Tide pools
  • August 11: Seabirds

Birthday Parties

The San Diego Natural History Museum is available to host your child’s next birthday party on Saturdays and Sundays. Does your child love dinosaurs and reptiles or bugs and butterflies? We can make their love for the natural world even richer and make their next birthday one they won’t soon forget. Learn more.

Choose from these party themes:

  • Dinosaur Time Machine
  • Reptile Round-Up
  • Bugs-n-Butterflies

Click here or call 877.946.7797 (M–F, 10 AM-5 PM) for more information on our family programs.


3D Film Experience—A Reef Reborn (Through December 31, 2016)

Immerse yourself into a world of swirling sardines, majestic sea turtles, and eye-popping life. This inspiring story of transformation takes place against the stunning backdrop of the Cabo Pulmo reef in Baja California. Meet the people and animals that call this extraordinary location home. Take a journey through time to see how science, human courage, and the irrepressibility of nature resurrected a community and its greatest natural treasure. Support for this film was provided by the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and the International Community Foundation Candeo Fund at the recommendation of Christy Walton. 

3D Film Experience—Whales 3D (Through September 5, 2016)

Dive into an immersive and highly emotional adventure with Whales 3D, presented by Jean-Michel Cousteau. This awe-inspiring documentary film takes you from the dazzling coral reefs of the Bahamas to the waters of the exotic Kingdom of Tonga for a close encounter with the tribes of the ocean. From nWave Productions and narrated by Daryl Hannah, viewers will witness the profound love of a Humpback mother for her newborn calf and come eye-to-eye with singing Humpback males. Stunning images, captured for the very first time in 3D, offer a view of cetaceans and their habitats as never seen before.

Ongoing 2D Film Experience—Ocean Oasis

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.

Films in the giant screen theater are free with paid general admission (except on Residents’ Free Tuesdays), Passports to Balboa Park, Go San Diego Cards, and for Museum members. For our film schedule and additional information, please click here.

About the San Diego Natural History Museum
The San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) 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 people respect for the environment.

The Museum is located at 1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101. Open daily from 10 AM to 5 PM (closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas Day only). Balboa Park After Dark Hours (open until 8 PM on most Fridays) will run from May 27 to September 2. For more information, please call 877.946.7797 or visit our website. Follow theNAT on Twitter and Instagram and join the discussion on Facebook.


Press Kit

May thru Aug 2016 Calendar Release

Media Info