Young children at the entrance to the Steinhart Aquarium.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about purchasing, renewing, or gifting a membership—and how to enjoy your membership to its fullest once you're part of the California Academy of Sciences community.

Account management

Do I need an online account?
You need to create an account if you are purchasing a new membership, renewing an existing or expired membership, or would like to access your member discount when shopping online. For Daytime Admission, NightLife, and other ticketed events, you can checkout as a guest. However, we do recommend creating an account as checkout will be faster for future purchases. Members, you’ll be prompted to log in at checkout—please do so to receive your member discount!

To create an account, click here. To log in, click here.

I’m a member but have never logged in. Do I already have an account?
If you became an Academy member before May 14, 2019, but have never logged in to your online account, you’re already in our system but will need to activate your account. Click here and follow the prompts to create a password and finish setting up your account. (If during the activation process you do not see the password reset email in your inbox, please check your "Promotions" tab or spam folder.)

If you purchased a membership online on or after May 14, 2019, you will have had to create an account to complete your transaction. If you purchased a membership by phone or in-person at the Academy, you’re in our system but will need to activate your account. Click here and follow the prompts to create a password and finish setting up your account.

How do I renew online?
You can renew one of two ways:

  1. If you know the membership level at which you’d like to renew, click here to log in (or create an account if you haven’t already done so), select a membership level, and proceed to checkout.
  2. If you’re thinking about upgrading or would like to learn more about each level, click here for detailed information about each level. Then, add your desired membership to your cart, log in, and proceed to checkout.

What if I forgot my login information?
If you forgot your password, click here and follow the prompts to reset it. If you forgot the email address associated with your account, or have any other questions or concerns, we’re happy to help. Please email membership@calacademy.org (or info@calacademy.org if you’re not a member) and we’ll respond as soon as we can.

How do I use my member discount online?
Members, don’t forget to take advantage of your 20% discount on VIP Tours, Penguins+Pajamas sleepovers, lectures, and NightLife! It’s easy: Simply add your desired tickets to your shopping cart, log in to see your discount reflected in your order subtotal, and proceed to checkout.

Where can I find my membership ID number?
Your membership ID number appears on the back of your membership card and on your acknowledgment and renewal letters and emails. You can also email the Membership Department at membership@calacademy.org, call our Contact Center at (800) 794-7576, or visit the Service Desk at the front of the museum to speak to a representative for further assistance.

Where can I edit my address and update my email?
You may email the membership department at membership@calacademy.org, call our contact center at (800) 794-7576, or change your information at our service desk the next time you visit the Academy.

When does my membership expire?
Your membership expiration date can be found on letter and email communications from the Academy. You can also email the membership department at membership@calacademy.org or call us at (800) 794-7576. We're always happy to answer any and all questions about your Academy membership.

I recently upgraded my membership. Why did my expiration date stay the same?
When upgrading, you pay only the difference between your current and new membership level, and your expiration date remains the same. If your renewal date is approaching, you may choose to renew-and-upgrade early, which will extend your expiration date for one full year. Once your upgrade is complete, your upgraded membership benefits will be effective immediately.

Annual plans

What is the Annual Membership Subscription?
The annual membership subscription is a convenient and green way to ensure continuous access to Academy membership benefits. This option enables members to purchase membership with an initial down payment and 11 equal monthly payments thereafter. Your membership is renewed on an annual basis at which point members will pay equal monthly payments. Before the renewal is charged, the Academy will email a renewal notice and you may opt not to renew at that time by notifying the Academy.

What is the Automatic Renewal Plan?
This feature allows your membership to automatically renew, ensuring that your membership benefits do not lapse. Just like the annual membership subscription, the Academy will email a renewal notice prior to charging your card and you may opt not to automatically renew.

How do I enroll in either plan?
Choose the “Annual Membership Subscription” or “Automatic Renewal” option when purchasing or renewing a membership online. You may also request to enroll in either plan by calling our contact center at (415) 379-8098 or visiting our Service Desk in-person. One month before your membership is due to expire, you will receive an email notification that your credit card on file will be charged for the next year of membership at the current membership level.

How do I cancel participation?
You can cancel participation in either the annual membership subscription or automatic renewal by contacting the Academy at (415) 379-8098. Your membership will not be renewed automatically once the current membership expires.

Caregiver cards

Who is eligible to receive a caregiver card?
All Family Plus and Associate-level households, as well as all donor levels starting at the Explorer level, are eligible to receive one named caregiver card at no additional cost. Additional caregiver cards may be purchased for $50 per named caregiver. A caregiver is one who regularly cares for children (age 17 and under) or adults who benefit from special assistance.

How do I purchase additional caregiver card/s?
Family Plus and Associate-level households may purchase additional cards online, at the Service Desk the next time you visit, or by calling 800-794-7576. Donors at the Explorer level and above may purchase additional cards online, at the Service Desk, or by calling 415-379-5405. Please note that you'll be prompted to login before you can add additional caregiver cards to your webcart.

I just purchased additional caregiver card/s. How do I receive them?
When you purchase caregiver cards online or over the phone, just check in at the Service Desk (at the Academy's entrance) with a valid photo ID and we will issue your card/s.

Are caregivers allowed to accompany the children of the household to the Academy without the primary or secondary member present?
Yes, the caregiver may visit with children (17 and under) without the primary or secondary cardholder present.

I have more than one person who cares for my child/children on a regular basis. Can I receive more than one caregiver card? All Family Plus and Associate-level households, as well as all donor levels starting at the Explorer level, are eligible to receive one named caregiver card at no additional cost. Members at these levels may purchase additional caregiver cards for $50 per named caregiver.

What happens if my caregiver changes during the course of my membership? Can I receive a new caregiver card?
We understand that your family’s situation might change during your year of membership. If your regular caregiver changes, we ask that the primary member inform us of the new name and request the change to the caregiver card. A $5 change fee will be applied.

What happens if my caregiver loses their card?
If your caregiver has misplaced their card, we ask that the primary member inform us of the need for a replacement card. A $5 change fee will be applied.

When does my caregiver card expire?
Caregiver cards expire at the same time as the cardholder’s membership, but may be renewed annually. To maximize your caregiver card benefit, we recommend purchasing as close to the date you join or renew as possible.

Community Value Membership

What is a Community Value membership?
It's a smart choice for families with flexible schedules, offering 220+ days of free visits per year. Visit our Community Value page for details.

What happens if I want to come to the museum on a blackout date?
If you plan on visiting during a non-"green" day as listed on the Community Value access calendar, you are welcome to upgrade to a higher-level membership and gain access to the museum any day of the year.

What is the difference between a Community Value membership and a Family membership?
While both memberships grant benefits to two adults and their children or grandchildren, they differ in price and availability: Community Value membership ($169 a year) includes 220+ annual days of museum access, while Family membership ($269) includes 365 days.

Can I purchase a Community Value membership on a blackout date?
You are welcome to purchase your membership on a blackout day either in full, on a payment plan, or by applying your already-purchased tickets to the full membership price. However, you will need to begin using the membership on a non-blackout day.

Gift memberships

Is there a way to gift a membership to an unknown recipient?
Yes! Gift cards are a great choice for an "anonymous" gift—and also for letting your recipient select a membership level of their choice.

Is there something I can print at home that I can present to my recipient while I wait to receive the personalized membership?
If you know your gift recipient’s email address, we’ll deliver the gift membership confirmation email them directly. Or, if you prefer, we will send the gift membership to your email address to print out and present to the recipient personally. Please allow 24 hours to process. Sorry, we don't send gift memberships through the mail.

When will my recipient receive their membership card?
Upon their first visit to the Academy! Your recipient will need to present their gift membership email confirmation at the Service Desk when they arrive, and then they'll receive their personalized membership card.

Guest privileges

How does guest admission work?
Guest admission is included with Senior (1 guest), Individual Plus (1 guest), Family Plus (2 guests), and Associate (2 guests)-level memberships. Guests must accompany the named cardholder to receive free admission.

Can I bring more guests than my membership level allows?
Yes! Your additional guests may accompany you to the Service Desk to purchase admission tickets. You may also purchase extra tickets online in advance of your visit.

Can I bring my guests to Member Hour?
Yes! (And they can use the Member Entrance, too.)

Membership cards

I just purchased a membership online/over the phone. When will I get my card/s?
To receive your permanent membership cards, simply check in at the Service Desk at the Main Entrance on your first visit to the Academy. Please have your purchase receipt email and photo ID handy in case we need to look up your order number.

Why didn’t I get a new card with my renewal?
In an effort to be more environmentally friendly, our membership cards aren't printed with expiration dates. As long as you remain active at the same membership level, you can use the same card year after year. If you have changed your membership level or need a replacement card, visit the service desk the next time you visit and we’ll be happy to print one for you.

How many cards will I receive?
Senior, Individual Plus, and Teacher-level members receive a single membership card, which grants entry for cardholder and one guest on each visit—no extra ticket is needed. Individual-level members receive one card without guest privileges. Family, Family Plus, or Associate-level memberships receive two cards bearing different names. Family Plus and Associate-level members and above have the option to receive a caregiver card at no additional cost.

I misplaced my card. Can I still visit?
Please bring your photo ID to our onsite service desk (located at the main entrance) and we will replace your card immediately. If your card is permanently lost, please call the membership hotline at (800) 794-7576 or let the service desk attendant know and we'll replace them. To help the Academy conserve resources, please retain your membership card as long as your membership is active. Should you need to replace a lost or stolen card or make a name change, a $5 fee will be assessed.

I currently have a “Guest of” card as my secondary card. I like the ability to enable my friends and family to use my membership at the Academy and I would like to continue to do so. What are my options?
Option 1:Upgrade to a Family Plus membership. This membership level enables you to bring two additional guests every time you visit, plus the option to receive one named caregiver card. Option 2: Gift memberships make it easy to give the gift of a full year at the Academy to friends and family and memberships become active on the day of purchase.

I do not have another adult in my household to name on the secondary card. Can I leave that card unnamed?
We require that both cards at the Community Value, Family, Family Plus, and Associate levels be named. Choose the name of the person with whom you’re most likely to visit or is most likely to visit with your children. Other options include waiving the second card or using your own name on the secondary card.

What if I’d like to change the name on my secondary card?
We understand your situation may change during your membership. Please contact the Academy to change the name of the person on your secondary card. A $5 change fee will be applied.

Purchase and visitation

I plan to visit the Academy soon. What’s the fastest way to sign up?
Online or at our front door! After joining online, present your order confirmation email to receive your permanent membership cards upon your first visit to the Academy. Or, sign up on the day you visit at the Service Desk. You may also call the membership hotline at (800) 794-7576.

When are Member Hours?
Members have the Academy to themselves every Tuesday morning from 8:30–9:30 am and Sunday morning from 10–11 am. Guest(s) are welcome during Member Hours—please purchase additional tickets as necessary.

Can I apply Daytime Admission ticket purchases toward an Academy membership?
Absolutely! The cost of Daytime Admission ticket/s can be applied to an Academy membership on the same day of your visit, and no later than 30 minutes before closing. NightLife tickets can also be applied toward memberships, if done on the day of the event and no later than 9:30 pm.

Here's how it works: The value of up to two purchased Adult tickets may be applied to any Individual membership product. The value of two purchased adult tickets, plus the value of all purchased child or youth tickets, may be applied to any Family membership. Admission tickets that are purchased as part of a group visit (or that are otherwise discounted in any way) cannot be applied to an Academy membership.

Does the Academy participate in a matching gift program?
Yes! Many employers sponsor matching gift programs and will match charitable contributions made by their employees. Visit our Matching Gifts page for more information and to see if your employer participates.

Have a question that's not addressed here? We're always happy to help! Please send an email to membership@calacademy.org or call the membership hotline at 800-794-7576.