A New Aquarium Experience Is Coming to Central Wharf

Aquarium to Launch $15M Rebuild of its Central Tank in September and Will Remain Open During Construction

BOSTON. This September, the New England Aquarium will launch a major $15 million revitalization program, starting with a complete renovation of its spectacular, four-story, Caribbean coral reef exhibit – the Giant Ocean Tank. The GOT will be getting a top-to-bottom, 21st- century transformation including the replacement of its intimate yet large viewing windows, a redesigned reef, and the addition of a new education center at the top of the tank. When completed, many new fish species will be added to what is already considered one of the most complex and sophisticated aquatic exhibits in the world.

The ten month construction project will begin after Labor Day 2012 and finish in June 2013. The Aquarium will remain open during the rebuild as most of the work will be conducted at night. The renovation will not affect regular public hours, but visitors this autumn will notice a difference as they will be seeing some of the Aquarium’s most popular animals from a whole new angle. Myrtle the 560 pound green sea turtle, the Aquarium’s large sharks, and the 800 other residents of the Giant Ocean Tank will all be moved into the penguin pool where the water will be warmed considerably. Most of the Aquarium’s penguins will be staying at the Aquarium’s new Animal Care Center in Quincy, but there is a possibility that some will remain in display in Boston.

Of the Aquarium’s nearly 900 species of aquatic animals, only a small number of species will not be seen during construction. The majority of the other exhibits, including the new shark and ray touch tank, the fur seal and sea lion center, and the harbor seal exhibit will be open as usual, completely unaffected by the project.

In addition, the revitalization program will include an innovative new exhibit on the first floor called the Blue Planet Action Center. The new space will highlight major challenges facing our oceans and connect the Aquarium’s conservation and research work around the globe to the visitors’ experiences on Central Wharf.

All of these projects are part of the $42 million Mission Blue capital campaign that began in 2007. The Aquarium’s $15 million core renewal is actually the final major project of the Mission Blue capital campaign that has included four other major upgrades to the Aquarium’s facilities. Within the last two and a half years, the Aquarium has opened:

  • The spectacular, harbor-side New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center
  • The immensely popular Trust Family Foundation Shark & Ray Touch Tank
  • The state-of-the-art John Prescott Research Lab
  • The massive off-site Animal Care Center in Quincy which is also the home of our marine animal rescue and rehabilitation center

This campaign has also funded a number of new conservation, research and education initiatives that are at the core of the Aquarium’s mission to protect the blue planet. The Aquarium has already raised $38.6 million, which is more than 90% toward its $42.5 million Mission Blue goal. The Aquarium hopes to complete the capital campaign by the end of 2012.

Beyond the work on the Giant Ocean Tank, the scope of next autumn’s construction work will also include the building of a reflective ceiling dome that will help create a greater underwater ambience throughout the building, enhanced lighting, the construction of a ramp to the top of the central tank providing access for wheelchairs and strollers there for the first time and a refinishing of surfaces throughout the main building. Also behind the scenes, new fire alarm and sprinkler systems will be installed.

IMAGES: Architectural renderings are attached. Aquarium animal and exhibit images can be downloaded at: http://www.neaq.org/about_us/news_and_media/photo_collections/index.php

CONTACT: Tony LaCasse, 617-877-6871,