The California Academy of Sciences settles into temporary downtown digs while Genoese architect Renzo Piano rebuilds the Golden Gate Park complex over four years. The academy, the nation's fourth-largest museum focusing on natural history, includes the Steinhart Aquarium, Morrison Planetarium, and Natural History Museum. For the downtown debut, academy scientists created "Ants: Hidden Worlds Revealed" for the Natural History Museum. Among the components are six live ant colonies -- four types from California and two from South America and Africa -- and research about new ant discoveries. Other areas of the museum have exhibits and animals, among them bearded lizards, boa constrictors, and a South African black-footed penguin. The aquarium, home to 5,400 animals, is scheduled to open June 19.
875 Howard St. 415-750-7145. www.calacademy.org.
Civil War trails
The 1864 Overland Campaign in Virginia was the bloody turning point in the Civil War as General Ulysses S. Grant challenged General Robert E. Lee and his Army of Northern Virginia on their home turf. Grant's strategy was a multipronged attack: General Philip H. Sheridan in the west in the Shenandoah Valley, General Benjamin Butler in the east, and his own Army of the Potomac to the north. To commemorate the 140th anniversary of that year, the National Park Service, the counties of Spotsylvania, Hanover, Henrico, and Chesterfield, the cities of Fredericksburg, Richmond, Petersburg, Hopewell, and other communities in the Shenandoah Valley plan tours, living history programs, battle reenactments, and lectures focusing on the famous battles and their impact on civilian populations. Among the many events are a Battle of the Wilderness bus tour (May 1); Spotsylvania battle reenactment at Belvedere Plantation (May 7-9); McCormick Civil War Institute in Winchester (May 12-15); "Lest We Forget: Fredericksburg Area Civil War Weekend" (May 27-31); walking tour of Totopotomoy Creek Battlefield (May 30); "Life in the Trenches" at Cold Harbor Battlefield (June 12-13); and Battle of Winchester (Sept. 17-19).
Spring in bloom
Through July 25
The New York Botanical Garden makes the most of spring with a bounty of blooms, paintings, and events. The Enid A. Haupt Conservatory's "The Fragrant Gardens of Spring: A Flower Show" provides a changing tapestry through June 13. The NYBG grew thousands of flowers for their color and fragance to use in the display gardens of shrubs, perennials, and annuals. On weekends, there are home gardening demonstrations. The LuEsther T. Mertz Library's floral attraction, "The Flowering
Bronx River Parkway (exit 7W) and Fordham Road in the Bronx. 718-817-8700. www.nybg.org.
Art Car Parade
The alternative arts capital of Texas lives up to its reputation with the 14th annual Everyones Art Car Parade. The wild and crazy parade is open to all creative souls who are motivated to put a new and original spin on car dcor. Since the first parade's 40 ragtag entries, the event has ballooned in imagination and popularity. In the past, there has been a living room on wheels and the Spoonazoid dinosaur car made with plastic airline spoons confiscated to prevent terrorism. In mid-April, registrations were at 250 and climbing, said parade spokeswoman Ann Sieber in a telephone interview from her Houston office. Bookending Saturday's parade on Allen Parkway are a Main Street Drag visiting children's hospitals and schools; Main Squeeze, a downtown block party; and the Surreal Brunch and Awards Ceremony. The parade is one of many events sponsored by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art in Houston, protector of the Orange Show Monument and the Beer Can House, memorable outsider art sites that are open to the public.
Various locations. 713-926-6368. www.orangeshow.org.
The Cape Cod Maritime Days include the entire Cape in eight days of tours, exhibits, museums, sea songs, kayaking, and a symposium. Sponsored by the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod and the Cape Cod Commission, the 11th annual celebration begins May 8 with the Cape Cod Maritime Museum's festival in Aselton Park in Hyannis. One of Maritime Days' more unusual attractions is "Headlights for Lighthouses," an all-vehicle car parade from Woods Hole to Provincetown visiting lighthouses. Organizers want classic and muscle cars to participate. Among other events are "Cape Cod Waterways 2004," kayaking in various bays (May 11, 12, 15); Canal Vistors Center Interpretive Tour (May 14-16); "Cape Cod Maritime History Symposium" (May 15); American Lighthouse Foundation Spring Conference and Dinner (May 15); Hyannis Sea Captains' Homes Historical Walk (May 15); and "Headlights for Lighthouses" exposition (May 14). Various locations. 508-362-0066. www.capecodarts.org.; www.capecodcommission.org.
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