At the California Academy of Sciences’ new exhibit, “Russia’s Great Voyages to America: Science Under Sail 1728-1867,” viewers get a firsthand look at thousands of animal and plant specimens, artifacts, illustrations, and journal entries collected by the earliest explorers of the Pacific Northwest and northern California coasts. In addition to charting the north Pacific Coast, the Russians named and wrote the first studies of many North American plants and animals, including California’s state flower, Escholtzia californica. Adelbert von Chamisso—the first naturalist to describe the plants of California—named the poppy after his colleague Johann Eschscholtz while visiting San Francisco in 1816. The exhibit also includes a full-size replica of a naturalist’s cabin (I’ll warn you, it is unbelievably small), models of navigational tools, and the first known drawing of the Presidio (Georg Von Langsdorff’s View of the Spanish Settlement at San Francisco, 1806). The exhibit runs through January 1, 2002, at the Academy in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco. For more information, call (415) 750-7145 or log on to www.calacademy.org.
Bay Nature magazine ◦ October-December 2001