In addition to the Academy's permanent and changing exhibits, we offer a range of exciting activities throughout the day appropriate for the whole family. Enrich your visit through a movie, naturalist show, watching an Academy scientist at work, or more. Activities are free with admission unless otherwise noted.
Live Animal Presentations
Auditorium (Subject to change. Listen for announcements.)
11 a.m., 11:45 a.m.
All ages welcome.
Meet the furry, feathered, and scaly residents of the museum’s Live Animal Center, and explore their behaviors, adaptations, and ecosystems. The museum's Live Animal Center supports a collection of over 100 individual animals and several colonies of invertebrates that make thousands of program appearances annually.
Weekdays: 2:30 p.m.
Weekends and Weekday Holidays: 11 a.m & 2:30 p.m.
Join our experienced Academy Educators as they explore natural history in these informal and interactive presentations involving live animals or museum specimens.
- Topics and locations vary daily; check in the lobby on the day of your visit for details.
- Presentations run for 20 minutes.
Audubon Page Turning
Every weekday at 3:15 pm, visitors can come into the Library to watch the daily page turning of John James Audubon's masterwork The Birds of America. Published from 1827–1838, this monumental work is arguably the most influential book on birds ever created.
A prized holding in the Academy Library's extensive rare books collection, this double elephant folio edition contains 435 life-size, hand-colored engravings bound into five volumes. Less than half of the 200 original sets survive. This is one of them.
Fossil Prep Lab
If you want to see paleontology in action, check out the Academy's Fossil Prep Lab. You can watch as our staff, volunteers, and other skilled workers prepare fossils for study by scientists from other research institutions. In the photo to the left, for example, you can witness preparator Jean Caton working on a vertebra (backbone) of an Apatosaurus for the Carnegie Museum.
Fossil Prep Lab staff often work closely with research paleontologists. For instance, Jason Poole, the manager of the Fossil Prep Lab, is currently working with Dr. Ken Lacovara of Drexel University on a new dinosaur from Argentina.
The Fossil Prep Lab is located in the back of Dinosaur Hall on the Main Floor, behind the staircase. Watch our staff work, and if you want, ask them questions. They will be glad to answer.
Where do the fossils in the Fossil Prep Lab come from? This video from Great Big Story profiles Jason Poole and his work in the Bighorn Basin digging for dinosaurs.
The Big Dig
Hunt for dinosaur bones at the Big Dig, where you can search for fossils in a replica of the New Mexico Badlands. After you have donned your protective goggles and grabbed your chisel and brush, you'll be ready to dig for dinosaurs from the Late Cretaceous Period (near the end of the Age of Dinosaurs). But be warned, you need to be patient to dig for dinosaurs. Just ask any paleontologist! Luckily, the Big Dig isn't as dirty as some of the outdoor digs visited by Academy scientists.
So far, dinosaur hunters at the Big Dig have found parts of the following dinosaurs:
When you're done here, you may want to check out the Fossil Prep Lab, which is located in the back of the first level in Dinosaur Hall (behind the stairway). There you can see how fossils are prepared after they are removed from the ground.
If you're a family or individual and come to the Big Dig only to find it being used by a group, don't worry. We can usually find a place for you.
The Big Dig is open 10:00 am–4:30 pm on weekdays and 10 am–5:00 pm on weekends. It's located on the Mezzanine in Dinosaur Hall.
Get up close to the Academy's reptiles and amphibians at our Reptile Tech Cart! See close up details through a high powered microscope, examine and touch snake skins, turtle shells, and more! Our Reptile Cart runs seasonally. Until June 2017, it will run on Tuesdays and Sundays. Check with Visitor Services to find out if the cart is out on the day you visit! Learn more: