The Great Animal Orchestra
Listen up: You’re about to take a sonic journey around the planet.
Don’t miss the stunning West Coast premiere of The Great Animal Orchestra. This immersive audiovisual art experience celebrates the splendor of the animal world—and makes an unforgettable plea for preserving it. From rainforests and deserts to Arctic tundra and coral reefs, hear the howls, croaks, hums, trills, clicks, growls, and cries of animals in the wild, and see this rich symphony of sound made visible through real-time streaming spectrograms. Catch a screening of Bernie Krause: A Life with The Great Animal Orchestra (dir. Vincent Tricon, 2021, 37 min.), and further investigate the phenomena of sound in related exhibits throughout the Exploratorium.
For more information about what to expect, please see our Frequently Asked Questions.
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About the Artists
For over 50 years, Bernie Krause has devoted his life to soundscape ecology. He has traveled all over the world recording and studying the sounds of natural habitats, from the jungles of the Amazon to the salt ponds of California. He’s been stalked by a jaguar, tossed by a mountain gorilla, and often sat still for 30-hour stretches to capture nature’s symphonic sounds great and small—from groaning glaciers and singing sand dunes to bellowing elk and chirping ants.
United Visual Artists
United Visual Artists is a London-based art studio combining sculpture, installation, live performance, and architecture. Focusing on technology and the tension between real and synthesized experiences, the studio was commissioned by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain to create a visual artistic interpretation of Bernie Krause’s work. “The idea was to create a landscape out of this information that the visitor could be in, rather than just look at on a screen,” says founder Matt Clark.
About the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain
The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain is a private cultural institution whose mission is to promote all fields of contemporary artistic creation to the international public through exhibitions, live performances, publications, and conversations. With a focus on the relationship between human beings and nature, it has produced projects on contemporary environmental issues, such as climate change, biodiversity, deforestation, and Indigenous languages and cultures. The Fondation Cartier travels the world, partnering with major art institutions and engaging new audiences to discover the works of contemporary artists.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Created by pioneer soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause and United Visual Artists and commissioned by the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, The Great Animal Orchestra is an immersive audiovisual art experience for Exploratorium visitors of all ages. Hear audio recordings of seven biodiverse habitats/soundscapes from around the world, and see this rich symphony of sound made visible through real-time streaming spectrograms. These stunningly detailed visualizations are mirrored in a subtle natural border—a shallow pool of water that runs the periphery of the installation, responding in ripples and waves as the sounds of The Great Animal Orchestra reverberate through the room.
Outside the installation, visitors are invited to continue exploring the phenomena of sound in related exhibits throughout the museum.
The Great Animal Orchestra is included with museum admission and is free for members. Please note that capacity is limited and admission is available on a first-come, first-served basis. To avoid a potential wait, Members may call the Admissions Office at 415.528.4407 at least one day prior to their visit to ensure entry at their desired time.
The Great Animal Orchestra is a limited-capacity experience, and there may be a wait time for entry. We invite you to save your place in line at the entrance to the installation and explore our 600+ interactive exhibits while you wait.
Yes, The Great Animal Orchestra is appropriate for museum visitors of all ages.
The Great Animal Orchestra is a loop of seven soundscapes, each lasting 12 minutes. The experience is nonnarrative, and you are welcome to exit at any time
This exhibition is supported in part through the generosity of Sue and Phil Marineau, Alison and Michael Mauzé, Stephanie and Bill Mellin, Meyer Sound, and Jennifer Van Natta.
Official hotel partner of The Great Animal Orchestra at the Exploratorium:
Video Courtesy of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain and the Peabody Essex Museum, footage by Chip Van Dyke.