Sustainability Inspired at the California Academy of Sciences’ 2013 Big Bang Gala

Images by Drew Altizer Photography

Supporters, conservationists and innovators filled the California Academy of Sciences for the 27th annual Big Bang Gala on Thursday, April 18, raising more than two million dollars for Academy programs. The evening celebrated the importance of sustainability and conservation, topics at the core of the Academy’s mission to explore, explain, and sustain life, and featured thought leaders who are pioneering public awareness of environmental conservation and the vital importance of sustainable design.

William McDonough addresses the crowd at the California Academy of Sciences - Big Bang Gala 2013

After a cocktail reception, guests attended one of two “Insightful Conversations.” In the planetarium, Event Co-Chair Wendy Schmidt introduced renowned nature photographer James Balog, who presented breathtaking images on the Academy’s all-digital planetarium dome documenting the world’s receding glaciers, work which has been featured in the award-winning documentary Chasing Ice. In Tusher African Hall, Event Co-Chair Matthew Barger introduced pioneering architect William McDonough, recipient of the Presidential Award for Sustainable Development and champion of the Cradle to Cradle design philosophy, who discussed the important role of restorative sustainability in protecting our planet. Dinner following the conversations was prepared by Chef Lucas Shoemaker of McCall Associates. Contributions during the dinner program, which were largely and generously matched by Jennifer Caldwell and John H. N. Fisher, raised an additional $151,000 for the Academy’s marine biodiversity conservation efforts in Northern California.

At 8:30 pm, doors opened for Big Bang: Party After Dark, which featured a live performance by LA-based dance-pop duo Poolside, followed by a live DJ set from headliner Mayer Hawthorne, presented by Another Planet Entertainment. A multi-instrumentalist and vocalist praised for his fresh spin on old-soul revival, the sold-out crowd grooved to Hawthorne’s collection of up-tempo funk, Motown and soul tracks.

Velocity Circus performers roamed among revelers on stilts throughout the museum, while guests kept the party rolling with bicycle-powered DJ booth Rock the Bike and art installation El Arbol. Captivating visuals by ALL OF IT NOW! and late-night eats by mobile pizza kitchen Del Popolo rounded out the night’s entertainment.

This year’s Big Bang Gala was co-chaired by Matthew Barger, Randi Fisher, and Wendy Schmidt; event production was done by Blueprint Studios. The California Academy of Sciences’ mission is to explore, explain and sustain life, and event proceeds benefit its sustainability and conservation programs.

The California Academy of Sciences is home to an aquarium, planetarium, natural history museum, and research and education programs, which engage people of all ages and backgrounds on two of the most important topics of our time: life and its sustainability. Visit or call (415) 379-8000 for more.

The wonderful supporters of the California Academy of Science

Click on thumbnails to enlarge