Learn more about purchasing, renewing, and gifting a membership—and how to enjoy your membership to its fullest once you've joined.

Attention members: Walkup admission is back, no advance reservations required! Simply show your new digital membership card at the member entrance for admission. Questions? View our digital membership card FAQ page.

Digital membership cards

This topic needed its own page! Click below to learn more. 

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 NightLifeVIP Tours, and lectures, and 10% off Penguins+Pajamas Sleepovers! 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 your acknowledgment and renewal letters and emails. You can also email the Membership Department at membership@calacademy.org or call our membership hotline at 800-794-7576.

Where can I edit my address and update my email?
You may email the membership department at membership@calacademy.org or call our membership hotline at 800-794-7576.

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.

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.

Purchase and visitation

I plan to visit the Academy soon. What’s the fastest way to join?
Our webstore is open 24/7: Join online in just a couple minutes! You can also join by phone by calling our membership hotline at 800-794-7576 between 8 am-5 pm Monday-Friday and 9 am-5 pm weekends. 

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. Guests are welcome during Member Hours—please purchase additional tickets online as necessary.

Can I apply Daytime Admission ticket purchases toward an Academy membership?
Absolutely! After your visit, please call our Contact Center at 415-379-8000 between 8 am-5 pm Monday-Friday or 9 am-5 pm weekends to apply the cost of your Daytime Admission ticket toward an Academy membership.

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.

Can I pay partial or in full through my employer or use my matching gift to purchase or renew my membership?
No, corporate giving and match programs are extremely generous corporate philanthropy programs, and they are meant to be extensions of a donor’s own generosity in support of nonprofit organizations rather than cover the partial or full cost of renewal or purchase of a membership.

If you are inquiring about a Donor Circle membership, please email friends@calacademy.org or call 415-379-5405.

Membership cards

Academy membership cards are now digital! Visit our digital membership card FAQ page to learn more.


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. 

Can I bring more guests than my membership level allows?
Yes, but you must pay for any additional guest tickets at the ticket window when you arrive.

Can I bring my guests to Member Hour?
Absolutely! (And they can even use the Member Entrance.)

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 Program?
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 “auto-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. 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 Program by calling our Contact Center at 415-379-8098. Your membership will not be renewed automatically once the current membership expires.

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 to 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?
Your recipient will receive their digital membership card within 72 hours of your purchase.

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 Friends Circle, 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 an additional caregiver card?
Family Plus and Associate-level households may purchase additional cards online or by calling 800-794-7576. Donors at the Friends Circle level and above may purchase additional cards online or by calling 415-379-5405. Please note that you'll be prompted to log in before you can add additional caregiver cards to your webcart.

I just purchased an additional caregiver card. How do I receive it?
You may share your digital membership card with your caregiver card by following the instructions on the "Using your card" section of this page.

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 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 Friends Circle, 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.

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 by calling 800-794-7576 (Family Plus and Associates) or 415-379-5405 (Friends Circle and above) to request the change to the caregiver’s name on your record. 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 Membership 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 ($179 a year) includes 220+ annual days of museum access, while Family membership ($279) 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.

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