Explore the Color of Life at the California Academy of Sciences
Discover nature's secret language and explore the world of color like never before at the California Academy of Sciences. Vibrant live animals and stunning interactives illustrate the dazzling—and often surprising—role that color plays in the natural world.
Throughout Color of Life, live animals illustrate how color communicates, sending signals that can attract or repel. With their bold, color-blocked plumage, Gouldian finches showcase how color patterns can vary within a single species and how this dazzling distinction gives female birds a “heads up” when choosing a mate. A display of Riggenbach’s reed frogs, whose color patterns vary dramatically between males and females of the same species, demonstrates how bright colors often spark investigations into scientific mysteries.
While some animals use color as a form of visual advertising, other species rely on color in the form of camouflage to conceal themselves from potential predators. Rotating displays of giant green leaf-mimicking insects and color changing cephalopods - including octopuses and cuttlefish - show how texture, pattern, and behavior all play an important role in concealing color. Blending in is one way that animals can avoid being eaten, but predators like pythons have a few tricks, too. Visitors can see how small, warm animals might look to a green tree python, which senses infrared or heat to track down prey at night.
Through evocative visual storytelling, Academy scientists share how color informs their own biodiversity research around the world, serving as an important indicator for ecosystem health and signaling habitats in need of protection. With stunning images and video from the field, visitors can dive below the ocean’s surface to view resilient coral reef ecosystems around the world and learn about conservation efforts that support healthy environmental restoration. While getting a bird’s eye view of treetop ecosystems teeming with biodiversity, visitors will learn how color—and life—varies between the forest floor and sky-high canopies.
A planetarium, aquarium, and natural history museum all under one living roof,the Academy is conveniently located within Golden Gate Park. Color of Life is an on-going exhibit and included with general admission purchase. Tickets may be purchased on-site or online here.