Special Collections

Special Collections consists of the Picture Collection and the Academy Archives. Holdings include over 400 archive and manuscript collections, and over 300,000 images.

Picture Collection


The Picture Collection maintains visual resources in a variety of formats, including:

  • photographs
  • negatives
  • slides
  • fine art
  • posters
  • digital images.

Special Collections makes digital images available through Cumulus & the Manzanita Image Project.

Images that are strictly for internal Academy use are available through the Cumulus database.

The Manzanita Project is an image database of flora, fauna, and landscapes available online in conjunction with the University of California, Berkeley.

For more information, please contact Special Collections.

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Academy Archives


The Academy Archives includes material on the history of the Academy, the history of science in the West, and the research of scientists throughout the Pacific Rim. A list of manuscript collections is available.

Some of our most frequently used collections are those that relate to the Galapagos Islands. We have also prepared an illustrated History of Academy Buildings, and house the Elkus Indian Papers, a collection of over 5000 documents related to Indian affairs over the period 1922-1963.

Go to manuscript collections >>>

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Visiting Special Collections


Academy Staff and outside researchers may visit Special Collections by appointment.

Appointments are generally only available M-F, between 10am and 5pm and will depend on the availability of staff. Contact Special Collections to make an appointment.

Special Collections is located in the Library of the California Academy of Sciences. Click here for directions to the California Academy of Sciences, as well as public transportation, parking, and accessibility information.

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Using Special Collections


Material from Special Collections is available for research and may also be used on a fee basis in publications and commercial products.

Please see our Price Listing for fees and Request for Permission for information about the reproduction and use of materials from Special Collections.

Most reproduction orders are completed within 10 working days of receipt. Large or difficult orders may require additional time. Rush orders may be accommodated for additional fees depending on staff availability.
Please note, reproduction services are performed by an independent photo lab.

All orders must be paid in advance. Acceptable forms of payment are:

  • Cash
  • Check or money order payable to California Academy of Sciences Special Collections
  • Visa, Mastercard, or American Express


Completed orders may be picked up at the California Academy of Sciences, Special Collections between the hours of 10 am to 5 pm Monday to Friday. Orders can be shipped via US Mail, UPS or Federal Express. Fees vary depending on shipment method.

Digital images can be sent via e-mail if customer's account can accept large attached files.

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Academy Library Catalog

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Library Collections


Explore new aquisitions, Special Collections, the Academy Archives, the Manzanita Image Project, and the Naturalist Center.

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