Go behind-the-scenes of the world's greenest museum.

Explore the Academy like never before—choose from two Behind-the-Scenes Tours for a closer, more intimate look at our animal residents, scientific collections, incredible green building, cutting-edge scientific research, and more!  




Aquarium Behind-the-Scenes Tour

A Mandarin Dragonet in the Steinhart Aquarium.

Did you know our Aquarium has been a part of San Francisco since 1923? Venture behind the scenes to learn more about the history of Steinhart Aquarium and how it has changed over the years.

Experience how our biologists care for the 40,000 animals—including the inhabitants of our Philippine Coral Reef, the deepest and largest indoor display of living corals. Visit the food prep kitchen and see what Claude, the albino alligator, gets fed for breakfast. Step inside our salt water mixing room and follow in the footsteps of our biologists by visiting a few of the spaces they work in each day—you never know who or what you will run into as part of this exclusive, hour-long tour.

Schedule: Monday–Friday at 1 pm; Weekends at 10 am, 1 pm, and 3 pm




Academy Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Tour guests explore Academy collections during their Behind-the-Scenes tour.

Explore the lesser seen regions of the Academy!

Spend an hour behind the scenes learning more about the institution’s 160-year history and what it takes to house nearly 46 million specimens.

Visit the research collections, not on view to the public, and develop an appreciation for our vast library of life, which includes amazing specimens from our ichthyology (fish), entomology (insects), and ornithology (birds) departments. From stepping out onto our living roof to examining breathtaking geology specimens in our private vault, the Academy tour is sure to show you more of the museum than you ever knew existed.

Schedule: Monday–Friday at 11 am and 2 pm; Weekends at 11 am, 2 pm, and 3:30 pm



What's Included

Purchase your Behind-the-Scenes Tour tickets either in advance—online or by phone—or by signing up on the day of your visit. Sign-up is located just inside our main entrance, but please be aware that tours often fill quickly.

Tour cost:
$24.95 per person (plus general admission ticket)
$19.95 per Academy member

During holiday periods and summer months, peak pricing may apply to general admission tickets. 

What's Included:

  • One-hour guided tour
  • Behind-the-scenes access
  • Express entry into the building
  • VIP entrance to Osher Rainforest
  • Reserved space in the Planetarium
  • 10 percent discount in Academy dining and shopping venues

Please note: Guests must be age 8 or older to participate, and guests between the ages of 8 and 17 must be accompanied by an adult. Each tour is limited to 14 guests.



  • Tours run on schedule; please arrive early to check in.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Tours are walking tours, but all are ADA accessible. Please wear comfortable shoes and clothing appropriate for indoor and outdoor environments. You may encounter uneven surfaces, slick spots, or inclement weather on the tour.
  • Guests are encouraged to explore museum exhibits before or after the tour.
  • Elements of tours and exhibits at the Academy are subject to change without prior notice.
  • While we cannot accommodate Service Animals on the tour, we are happy to offer a crated area for them.

A 50% non refundable deposit is due at the time of booking to reserve group tickets of 10 or more. Your total balance is due 30 days prior to your tour date. If you are booking a tour within 30 days of your tour date full payment is due at the time of booking. Cancellations occurring 30 days or more prior to tour date, will receive a full refund minus the deposit.