The T. Rex was there in the entryway. It has a new stance, more in keeping with current theory about how T. Rexes move. I was reassured by its presence even though I missed the old Godzilla pose, just a little, even if it was no longer considered accurate. There is still a courtyard in the center, but no fountain, no animal statues for elementary students and toddlers to climb. I saw some of the statues in other places, most notably the penguin out near the aviary. The pendulum has, I think, a smaller circle to work within; I have finally seen it knock down two pegs! The African hall is virtually unchanged (well, except for the penguins in their new home at the end where the giraffes used to be…) and I could easily remember being there myself as a child and watching little Syd and later little T.R. explore the length of the hall on a rainy day.
I missed the rocks. I asked what happened to them and it turns out they now live in a vault in the basement, where you can see them on the “platinum tour.” The old display was often empty, always dim and cool. I spent a long time there once trying to absorb lots of information and sparks of inspiration for a story I was trying to write. Alas, future writers doing research will have to take the tour.
The rainforest, however, is awesome! I loved the birds and butterflies, the tangles of plants, and the surrounding insects, arachnids, reptiles, and amphibians. I loved looking down at the fish on the flooded forest floor and seeing kids looking at the fish from the lower level.
Speaking of fish, the fish have much nicer living arrangements now. Their tanks are larger and more culturally elaborated. I spent a good long time watching large fish swim by me in a huge curved tank. (Brent’s favorite part was watching the staff member clean the glass with a magnetic tool.)
I was a bit skeptical about the whole living roof thing. It looks pretty Martian from across the way at the DeYoung. And, when I stepped out of the elevator, I was disappointed that I couldn’t walk around on more of it. However, once I understood the concept of the roof as lifting up a section of the park and sliding the museum under it, I liked it better. I liked the native plants, the plethora of birds (insects chose not to show themselves to me this time around), and the super-cool automatic opening and closing skylights controlled by data from the weather installations right up there. It also helped that the docent on the roof was friendly, knowledgeable, and not creepy.
So, while the Academy is Not the Same, while I miss some of the old things about it, I have to say it has evolved into another nifty incarnation.