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CuriOdyssey logo.png
Date opened1954[1]
LocationSan Mateo, California
Coordinates37°35′12″N 122°19′03″W / 37.586554°N 122.317636°W / 37.586554; -122.317636Coordinates: 37°35′12″N 122°19′03″W / 37.586554°N 122.317636°W / 37.586554; -122.317636
Land area3 acres (1.2 ha)[2]
No. of animals100[3]
Annual visitors75,000[1]

CuriOdyssey is a science museum and zoo for children and families where visitors see wild animals up-close and play with kid-friendly science exhibits. CuriOdyssey is home to over 100 rescued animals, most native to California, that cannot survive in the wild. CuriOdyssey's custom-designed exhibits are a science playground where kids play with scientific phenomena, including physical forces, perceptions and reflections, patterns in nature and backyard science.

Located at 1651 Coyote Point Drive in San Mateo, California, it is part of the Coyote Point Recreation Area, which overlooks the San Francisco Bay.[5] The museum was founded in 1954 as the San Mateo County Junior Museum, and is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

CuriOdyssey connects kids to nature with daily public animal feedings and educational programs where visitors meet the museum's Animal Ambassadors.[3] CuriOdyssey is a member of the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) and the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). CuriOdyssey also participates in the Museums for All program, offering free admission and reduced-cost membership to qualifying families[6].


CuriOdyssey was formerly Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education, and Coyote Point Museum. Located at 1651 Coyote Point Drive in San Mateo, California, it is part of the Coyote Point Recreation Area, which overlooks the San Francisco Bay.[5] The museum was founded in 1954 as the San Mateo County Junior Museum[7].

The animals at CuriOdyssey are all injured or imprinted in such a way that they would not survive in the wild. Most of the animals are native to California, though there are some animals that are housed here as part of the museum's Animal Ambassador program.[3] Coyote Point was originally an island with the San Francisco Bay on one side and tidal flats on the other. In the 1800s the tidal flats were filled in for use in dairy farming, and these are now a golf course.[8] In the early 1900s the land was turned into an amusement park, but this park was abandoned in 1923.[9]

During World War II, Coyote Point was home to a U.S. Merchant Marine cadet school, which eventually became the first campus of the College of San Mateo. In 1962 the county bought the land, and in 1963 the college moved to its current location and the county park was established.[8][9]

The museum was founded in 1954 by the Junior League of San Francisco as the San Mateo County Junior Museum, and was housed in a Quonset hut on the point. It was renamed "Coyote Point Museum for Environmental Education" in 1974, and the main museum building opened in 1981. In 1991, the museum opened its wildlife exhibits to show live animals that represented the ecosystems of San Mateo County [1][8]

In July 2006, the museum made its $745,000 deficit public. In August, it announced the organization was considering two proposals to save the museum: one from "Campaign to Save Coyote Point Museum," and the other from the "11th Hour Project," which proposed to scrap the museum and build an education center for global warming. In 30 days, the Campaign to Save Coyote Point Museum raised $540,247 in pledges from 776 donors, with an additional pledge from the Tomkat Foundation of $500,000 over four years. In September 2006, they officially took over management of the museum.[2][10]

Rachel Meyer, formerly executive director of the Palo Alto Junior Museum and Zoo and Chief Curator of Exhibits at the Exploratorium, was named the new executive director of CuriOdyssey (then Coyote Point Museum) on March 19, 2007.[11] With Meyer's arrival, the organization re-oriented to focus on young children, offering them direct, life-charting experiences with science and nature.

On January 15, 2011, Coyote Point Museum officially unveiled its new name, CuriOdyssey.[12]

CuriOdyssey installed two public art installations in 2013. The first, designed by Eric Maschwitz and mounted on the exterior of the building, consists of more than 200 pinwheels, illustrating the wind currents at Coyote Point. The second, created by Mark Brest van Kempen, consists of more than 100 weather vanes.[13]

Planned expansion[edit]

CuriOdyssey announced a renovation projected in 2015. Annual attendance reached 170,000 in 2014, and museum leadership drew up plans in conjunction with Fernau & Hartman[14] to increase classroom and exhibit space within the same footprint.[15] As of 2016 fundraising has reached $22M, drawing from community sources and matching funds from the TomKat Foundation.[16]


The museum delivers education programs, science exhibits, and wildlife viewing and interactions to give young visitors an introduction to the sciences and natural history of the San Francisco Bay Area. Through these experiences, children gain the tools they need to think critically and take on real world challenges they face now and in the future.

  • Science Exhibits – 50+ hands-on science exhibits designed specifically for young visitors invite children and families to explore and experiment with natural phenomena including gravity, light, perception, lift and more.
  • Wildlife Habitats and Animal Ambassadors – 25 naturalistic habitats house over 100 non-releasable animals native to California,[17] including two bobcats, a river otter, Virginia opossum, snakes, golden eagles, gray fox, banana slugs, turtles, owls, western toad, turkey vultures, raccoons and others. Visitors can wind through a tunnel that lets them see into dens and interior enclosures, and then walk back around the outside to see how the animals live in the wild.[8] Weekend wildlife presentations introduce individuals to the 50 additional Animal Ambassadors that keepers present for young visitors to see and (sometimes) touch. These education animals include birds of prey, snakes, a blue-tongued skink and much else.
  • Aviary – 4,000 sq ft (370 m2) walk-through facility that houses over a dozen non-releasable, native California birds.[18]
  • The Invertebrate Corner houses a variety of native invertebrates including a California blond tarantula, black widow spider, darkling beetles and others.
  • Gardens – 1.3 acres (0.53 ha) of primarily native plants including a hummingbird garden and butterfly habitat.

Event rentals[edit]

CuriOdyssey is available to rent for special events such as weddings, banquets and conferences. The four-level Redwood Hall has views of the Bay, audio-visual capabilities and capacity for up to 300 guests. The outdoor gardens are also available for after hours cocktail parties or intimate wedding ceremonies. Event guests can explore the exhibits, animal habitats or even feature an animal ambassador in their event.[19]


The museum offers a range of hands-on programs designed for school and group educators in the sciences, as well as programs for the general public that help visitors explore, discover, and interact with nature and natural phenomena.[1] The CuriOdyssey Mobile Museum and Animal Ambassadors regularly visit public parks as well as schools and other sites by special arrangement.



  1. ^ a b c d "About Us". Coyote Point Museum. Archived from the original on 6 April 2010. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  2. ^ a b Softky, Marion. "New life for Coyote Point Museum". The Mountain View Voice. Archived from the original on 24 July 2011. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  3. ^ a b c "Animal Habitats". Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  4. ^ "List of Accredited Zoos and Aquariums". Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  5. ^ a b Department of Parks (2012). "Coyote Point Recreation Area". County of San Mateo. Retrieved 20 September 2012.
  6. ^ "Museums For All". CuriOdyssey. Retrieved 2018-11-30.
  7. ^ "History". CuriOdyssey. Retrieved 2018-11-30.
  8. ^ a b c d Finacom, Steven. "Coyote Point Museum Offers Rewarding Excursion". The Berkeley Daily Planet. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  9. ^ a b "Coyote Point Museum in San Mateo, California". City-Data. Retrieved 11 April 2010.
  10. ^ Finacom, Steven. "Group taking over Coyote Point Museum". Revisioning Museums. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  11. ^ Gordon, R. "Coyote Point Museum has someone new in charge". The Contra Costa Times. Retrieved 13 April 2010.
  12. ^ Mike Rosenberg (17 January 2011). "'Curious' new name highlights changes at Coyote Point Museum". The San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 22 February 2011.
  13. ^ Weigel, Samantha (3 October 2014). "Countdown to 'Lift Off': CuriOdyssey celebrates 60th anniversary with flight-themed festival". San Mateo Daily Journal. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  14. ^ "CuriOdyssey at Coyote Point". Fernau&Hartman. 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  15. ^ Weigel, Samantha (23 October 2015). "Cultivating curious kids: CuriOdyssey announces $35M revamp, fundraising underway". San Mateo Daily Journal. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  16. ^ Weigel, Samantha (28 May 2016). "CuriOdyssey revamp gets help: Coyote Point science museum nabs long-term county lease, nears fundraising goal". San Mateo Daily Journal. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  17. ^ Weigel, Samantha (29 March 2014). "An up-close encounter: Oldest raccoon gets new home, roommates at CuriOdyssey". San Mateo Daily Journal. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  18. ^ "Our Animals". CuriOdyssey. Retrieved 8 March 2017.
  19. ^ "CuriOdyssey". Here Comes THE GUIDE. 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2016.

External links[edit]