On May 27, 2022, the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park will debut Hidden Wonders: Inside the Academy’s Collections, the inaugural exhibition in the newly created Pauline and Tom Tusher Collections Gallery.
From the microscopic to the massive, Hidden Wonders takes visitors on a tour of some of the standout specimens from the Academy’s extensive, 46-million-object scientific holdings, many of which can be safely displayed publicly for the first time thanks to the creation of the custom gallery.
The Academy is known for its beautiful, natural light-filled spaces and LEED-certified building with natural heating and cooling, yet agents of deterioration such as UV light, fluctuating temperatures, and shifting humidity can harm the integrity of delicate research specimens. Accordingly, only a portion of the Academy’s prolific scientific collections have been able to be displayed in the museum’s public spaces. To showcase a wider array of the collections, the Academy created the Pauline and Tom Tusher Collections Gallery, a custom designed light- and climate-controlled space that provides the appropriate environmental conditions to safely display research specimens previously secured in behind-the-scenes storage. The jewel-box gallery features cool temperatures, dramatic lighting, new conservation-grade cases, and specialized infrastructure that will keep gallery conditions stable.
“The Academy’s scientists partner with communities around the globe, studying and collecting specimens and data that help us understand life on our planet and develop collaborative solutions to our most pressing ecological challenges. As the world around us continues to change and scientific collecting and research techniques evolve, the Academy’s growing library of life is an irreplaceable source of insights about the natural world,” says Shannon Bennett, Chief of Science. “Hidden Wonders is the first time we can share some of these invaluable specimens and their stories with the public, and how the wealth of information contained in collections guides research, drives scientific discovery, and gives us valuable insights into how best to conserve and regenerate the natural world.”
The first exhibition to be shown in the new gallery space, Hidden Wonders: Inside the Academy’s Collections offers viewers the opportunity to dive into the Academy’s scientific collections, veritable “hidden wonders” that propel scientific discoveries about Earth’s history and biodiversity and inform stewardship for a healthy future. With nearly 800 objects representing all eleven of the Academy’s research collection disciplines, the exhibition features: a giant Galápagos tortoise, a fossilized saber-tooth cat collected from the La Brea Tar Pits, a rare hand-painted Audubon folio, Quechan ceramic figurines that survived the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, and more.