Giant-Screen Theater

Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater

Welcome to The Downing 3D Experience, the largest Dolby® 3D theater for a museum in California! Visitors to the San Diego Natural History Museum will be dazzled by the latest in digital 3D technology that delivers a premium viewing experience from anywhere in the 300-seat, stadium-style theater. 

All film times subject to change daily. Assistive Listening Devices for films and lectures in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater are available.  Please inquire with the theater attendant or with the Admission Desk.

Films in the giant-screen theater are included with paid admission and also with Balboa Park Explorer Passes, GO San Diego Cards and for members of the San Diego Natural History Museum. Tickets are available at the Admissions Desks at the Museum.

The Downing 3D Experience in the Charmaine and Maurice Kaplan Theater is sponsored by John and Tracy Downing, the Downing Family Foundation, the Eleanor and Jerry Navarra Family, Jerome’s Furniture, and Stephen Cohen, President, Private Asset Management, Inc.

Theater Schedule

11 AM
A Reef Reborn 3D
25 minutes

12 PM
Ocean Oasis 2D
40 minutes

1 PM
Whales 3D
20 minutes

1:45 PM
A Reef Reborn 3D
25 minutes

2:30 PM
Ocean Oasis 2D
40 minutes

3:30 PM
Whales 3D
20 minutes

4:15 PM
A Reef Reborn 3D
25 minutes

On Fridays from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Museum will be offering the following showtimes as part of Balboa Park After Dark*.

5 PM
Ocean Oasis
40 minutes

6 PM
Whales 3D
20 minutes

7 PM
Reef Reborn 3D
25 minutes

*Exceptions apply. See website for details.

Movie Trailers

A Reef Reborn

Immerse yourself into a world of swirling sardines, majestic sea turtles, and eye-popping life. This inspiring story of transformation takes place against the stunning backdrop of the Cabo Pulmo reef in Baja California. Meet the people and animals that call this extraordinary location home. Take a journey through time to see how science, human courage, and the irrepressibility of nature resurrected a community and its greatest natural treasure. Support for this film was provided by the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, The Walton Family Foundation, and the International Community Foundation Candeo Fund at the recommendation of Christy Walton. Read more.



Whales 3D

Dive into an immersive and highly emotional adventure with Whales 3D, presented by Jean-Michel Cousteau. This awe-inspiring documentary film takes you from the dazzling coral reefs of the Bahamas to the waters of the exotic Kingdom of Tonga for a close encounter with the tribes of the ocean. From nWave Productions and narrated by Daryl Hannah, viewers will witness the profound love of a Humpback mother for her newborn calf and come eye-to-eye with singing Humpback males. Stunning images, captured for the very first time in 3D, offer a view of cetaceans and their habitats as never seen before. 



Ocean Oasis

Take a fascinating journey into two remarkably different, but inextricably linked worlds—Mexico’s Sea of Cortés and the Baja California desert. Ocean Oasis , a giant-screen film, mesmerizes audiences as they witness the beauty of life in Baja California's rich waters and seemingly barren land. Note: Ocean Oasis is a 2D film. Produced by the San Diego Natural History Museum, Summerhays Films, and PRONATURA A.C., with sponsorship from Sempra Energy. Winner of the Jackson Hole Wildlife Film Festival and the International Wildscreen Film Festival.