Northern California is where big ideas are born—and the largest living things on Earth thrive. Explore the powerful natural phenomena that shape our coastline, shake our cities, and nourish our forests.

Giants of Land and Sea was on view from June 15, 2018, through January 15, 2024. Stay tuned for more information about a new exhibition (including a refreshed earthquake simulator) opening later this spring!

Life at the edge of land and sea is dynamic and ever-changing, where fog rolls in, tectonic plates tremble, and sea otters frolic in the kelp forest canopy. In this original exhibit, science becomes sensory as you explore Northern California's natural wonders through a variety of interactive experiences:

  • Feel your way through an immersive fog room
  • Encounter a 4-ton cross-section of a redwood tree
  • Keep your balance in an earthquake simulator
  • Virtually ascend to the top of a towering redwood

Giants of Land and Sea celebrates the extraordinary biodiversity in our own backyard—and the scientists and citizens taking action every day to sustain it.

Articulated whale and pinniped skeletons in the Giants of Land and Sea exhibit

Super-sized specimens

California’s nutrient-rich coastal waters attract migrating megafauna with massive appetites. Check out a display of humpback, minke, and sperm whale skulls from our scientific collections before examining some unexpected artifacts—whale earwax, anyone?

Two women shrouded in fog in the Fog Room in the Academy's Giants of Land and Sea exhibit

Liquid diet

Coast redwoods reach record-breaking heights in part thanks to the thirst-quenching power of fog. Step inside the Fog Room for a quintessential NorCal experience—and share your #FogRoom selfie after emerging from the mist.

Dramatic Vasquez Rocks in Agua Dulce, California, are evidence of the San Andreas faultline

Moving mountains

The Bay Area is famous for its movers and shakers—including the temperamental tectonic plates it’s built on. Enter the reimagined Shake House earthquake simulator to be transported to the epicenter of the powerful 1906 and 1989 temblors.

Photo credit: Hear2heaL, SUNSET ROCKS San Andreas Fault, CC BY-SA 3.0

A citizen scientist identifies a plant using the iNaturalist app

Golden State, green future

Northern California’s flora and fauna may be larger than life, but they’re not immune to widespread ecological harm. The Academy’s Thriving California initiative is harnessing scientific data and mobilizing diverse communities to fight climate change, stop biodiversity loss, and advocate for nature throughout our state.

A multilingual exhibit

The Academy celebrates our multilingual region by translating the Giants exhibit into Chinese (中文), Filipino, and Spanish (español).

To translate into over 100 languages, click the drop-down menu at the bottom of any Academy webpage.  

Generously supported by:
Logos for Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and PG&E
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