Smithsonian comes to the Presidio with Ocean Planet Exhibition

San Francisco, June 1, 1996: Ocean Planet, a major exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution celebrating the spectacular diversity of the Earth's vast oceans, will open Saturday, August 17, 1996 at the new Herbst International Exhibition Hall in San Francisco's Presidio.

The $4.1 million, 5,400-square-foot exhibition explores the majesty and bounty of the oceans, as well as the environmental threats they face, through state-of-the-art computer animation, sculpture, dioramas, videos, artifacts, specimens and photographs. Exhibited at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. from April 1995 to April 1996, Ocean Planet has attracted more than two million visitors.

Ocean Planet unfolds in seven sections, each attuned to an overall theme of ocean conservation. Highlights of the exhibition include:

Ocean Planet is the inaugural exhibit for the Herbst International Exhibition Hall, which will host future exhibits from the Smithsonian on a regular basis, as well as exhibitions from other sources focusing in the areas of ecology and environment, science and technology, and social and cultural issues.

The hall, the first of the educational and exhibition facilities envisioned for the Presidio's future as a national park, is a public-private partnership between the Fort Mason Foundation, the Herbst Foundation and the National Park Service. A $750,000 grant from the Herbst Foundation is financing the renovation of the former military commissary into an 8,000 square-foot exhibition hall centrally located in the Presidio's historic Main Post. The renovation, designed by Sausalito architect David W. Williams, will include new flooring, lighting and electrical systems, climate control, display walls, a gift shop and a small cafe area.

The hall will be operated by the Fort Mason Foundation, which has managed the Fort Mason Center under a Cooperative Agreement with the National Park Service since 1977. "The Presidio will be a dynamic setting for educational, environmental and cultural organizations devoted to stimulating understanding and action," notes Fort Mason Foundation Chairperson Sally Lovett. "The Herbst International Exhibition Hall will attract exhibits and events to address this mission. We see this move as a vital extension of the Fort Mason community."

Fort Mason Center Executive Director Marc Kasky adds, "For 20 years, the Fort Mason Foundation has successfully sought to attract programs and events to Fort Mason Center which address critical social, environmental and cultural issues. In bringing the Smithsonian's acclaimed Ocean Planet exhibit to the Presidio, we are extending this important role into our nation's newest national park."

The Presidio is Ocean Planet's first stop on a four-year tour that will take the exhibit to 11 cities across the country. The exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian Institution's Environmental Awareness Program and the National Museum of Natural History. It is circulated by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Services (SITES). Major support for the exhibition was provided by the National Science Foundation, national corporate sponsor Times Mirror Magazines and the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Ocean Planet will open with a weekend of free admission and marine-themed entertainment on Saturday, August 17 and Sunday, August 18. The exhibition will continue at the Herbst International Exhibition Hall through November 10. Exhibition hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $3 for seniors and children eight to 18, and free for children under eight. Ticket information and group rates are available by calling 415/561-5050.

NOTE: After the Opening Weekend, the exhibit will be open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 am to 5 pm. It is free to school groups with advanced reservations which can be made by calling 415-561-5050.

The Herbst International Exhibition Hall is located at the top of the Presidio's Main Parade Ground at the corner of Moraga and Montgomery, easily accessible through the Presidio, Lombard and Arguello Gates. Ample free parking is available at the Main Parade Ground.

With scenic vistas of San Francisco Bay and more than 800 acres of open space, the Presidio offers unparalleled recreational resources, including 11 miles of hiking trails, 14 miles of biking routes, ranger- and docent-led tours, beaches, picnic sites and dog walks. Nearby attractions and points of interest include the Golden Gate Bridge, historic Fort Point, the Exploratorium and Palace of Fine Arts, Fort Mason Center, Fisherman's Wharf and Pier 39. # # #

Ocean Planet Home Page

gene carl feldman ( (301) 286-9428
Judith Gradwohl, Smithsonian Institution (Curator/Ocean Planet)