"Earthquake," a new exhibit and planetarium show, opens at the beloved Golden Gate Park museum on May 26, complete with a quake stimulator, a walk-through model of the Earth and even live baby ostriches.
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“San Francisco—and California too—are no strangers to the awesome power of earthquakes,” Dr. Greg Farrington, executive director of the Academy, said in a statement. “By showing visitors the science that underlies these natural events, we want to encourage preparedness and help visitors understand how the great movements of the continents have produced the landscape we call home today and the life around us.”
Entry into the exhibit is through a large crack in the crust of a 25-foot model Earth, where visitors will find touchable specimens and interactive stations explaining the basics of plate tectonics.
One section focuses on the diverse life forms that evolved and spread out across Gondwana (present-day southern continents), showing visitors that the same processes that cause destructive earthquakes can also provide constructive conditions for non-human life.
Live ostriches, ancient fossils and mounted marsupials will illustrate the shared geological history of India, Antarctica, Australia, South America and Africa, which were once joined together. The Academy will be hatching live ostrich chicks to illustrate this story, on display until late 2012.
Visitors can also enter an earthquake simulator designed to look like an old Victorian home in San Francisco. Inside, simulated views of the downtown skyline and sounds of the World Series baseball game will bring guests back to 5:04 p.m. on October 17, 1989--the date and time of the infamous Loma Prieta earthquake.
But the experience doesn’t end there. For a second simulation, guests will travel farther back, to 5:12 a.m. on April 18, 1906, the date of the most devastating quake in San Francisco’s history. About 32 times stronger than Loma Prieta, this event brought the city to its knees, and the ensuing fire destroyed thousands of buildings.
An accompanying planetarium show takes visitors on a breathtaking journey through space and time, flying over the San Andreas fault before diving into the planet's interior to witness the breakup of Pangaea 200 million years ago, all narrated by Bay area native Benjamin Bratt.
Click through the slideshow to see photos from the exhibit, including the adorable baby ostriches, and then head over Golden Gate Park to check it out yourself: