California Academy of Sciences will be twice the price 

Families looking forward to the reopening of the California Academy of Sciences this fall could be in for sticker shock when they learn that admission prices have more than doubled, and it could cost a family of four close to $100 just to park and get in the door.

Adults, who paid $10 for admission to the museum and aquarium in the past, will now pay nearly $25; tickets for children older than 6 will cost $14.95, with a $19.95 price for teens. Member prices are $99 for an individual and $159 for a family.

"It’s ridiculous — and they wonder why families are leaving The City," said resident Michelle Schulze, who said she purchased a family membership last week for $59, before prices increased. Gregory Farrington, the Academy’s executive director, is certain the new building will wow everyone.

"This is the one place in the country you can see live creatures, learn about natural history and experience the cosmos all in one place," Farrington said. He compared the Academy’s price structure to attractions such as the Monterey Bay Aquarium or the American Museum of Natural History, where adult ticket prices range from $25 to $30.

Operating the Academy each year is expected to cost roughly $55 million — up from the $20 million it cost to run the temporary museum on Howard Street, according to Farrington.

The Academy expects to make some of that money through endowments and private donations; the rest will come from tickets purchased by an estimated 1.5 million visitors to the museum each year, according to Farrington.

Prices were set partially to ensure that the new Academy won’t deteriorate like the old one did, Stone said.

"We want to make sure we’ll still be here — so future generations will have this to come to," she said.

It has cost roughly $500 million to rebuild the Academy, including the cost to set up a temporary space on Howard Street. Roughly $152 million came from voter-approved bonds, plus state and federal funds, while the remainder was donated, Farrington said.

The museum will offer 17 free days per year, free visits for San Francisco school groups and discounts for patrons who arrive by public transit, according to Stone.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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