This coming spring, The Aquarium of the Pacific is unveiling a $53 Million dollar expansion to serve an insanely important purpose…education. This expansion will be the focal point of this well-loved museum and will provide facilities that will integrate the arts and sciences while offering visitors innovative ways to understand our connections to Earth, the World Ocean, and contemporary scientific research.
New Visions In Education
Pacific Visions will further the institution’s role as a community gathering place where scientists, policymakers, and the public can celebrate the inhabitants and ecosystems of the Pacific Ocean and explore today’s most important environmental issues. The Aquarium is taking an unconventional path with its expansion project. The Aquarium’s goal is to engage others in examining our relationship with our ocean planet, explore alternative pathways to the future, and discover how their collective actions will create the future.
The building will house a state-of-the-art immersive theater, expanded special exhibition and art galleries, and additional space for live animal exhibits. It will provide a revitalized front plaza and exhibition hall with space for installations, performances, and cultural events. Visitors will enter the new wing though the Pacific Visions art gallery featuring a range of changing installations to establish an emotional connection to the ocean and marine life. After passing through the art gallery, visitors will proceed into the orientation gallery, which will showcase a 26-foot- wide by 8-foot-tall media wall to introduce visitors to the challenges and promises of the future to be explored in the theater. The two-story, 300-seat Honda Pacific Visions Theater will include a 130- foot-wide by 32-foot-tall screen, curved in a 180-degree arc and a tilting 30-foot-diameter floor projection disc to immerse visitors in a virtual ocean environment. The infrastructure created for this theater will allow for media-rich performances, panel discussions, community meetings, and educational seminars that can incorporate live broadcast feeds and streaming media. A new expanded changing exhibit gallery will double the former changing exhibit gallery space where exhibits will be rotated periodically to reflect current scientific issues and discoveries and will be developed in conjunction with the theater experiences.
I was super privileged to get an inside look at the unfinished interior and what I can tell you, is your favorite Aquarium just got more amazing. If you can’t tell by looking at the blue exterior of the building, it’s wave-like design is intentional, as is its color. The specific panels of glass with the many layers and changing color in shades of blue, has been tested to help keep birds from flying into the building. Yes, that’s how detailed this construction was studied.
Dynamic Digital Theater
The best part of this expansion is the 300 seat Honda Pacific Visions Theater. This two- story theater has a 180 degree screen, surround sound and is 32 feet high. It will have interactive qualities like mist, wind, scent and seat rumblers and will be a stunning educational experience for your family. I cannot wait to be able to see a presentation in this space.
Theater content will be developed by the Aquarium and Cortina Productions in partnership with leading scientists, filmmakers, storytellers, and digital artists, to bring epic ocean stories to life that allow audiences to discover new species, witness the processes and phenomena of Earth’s ecosystems, and grapple with the many challenges facing us and the natural world. The art gallery will be designed to immerse the visitor in experiences that focus on the ocean’s ecosystems and marine life and how people have the power to shape our world in a sustainable and harmonious way through research and collective conservation efforts. When visitors leave the Aquarium, they will be able to remain connected and share the experience through the Pacific Visions app with friends and family.
My family is really looking forward to this new expansion opening to the public. My behind the scenes tour has me super excited to see these ‘visions’ come to life.
Support For The Pacific Visions Expansion
Pacific Visions is supported by the City of Long Beach with a $15 million matching grant, a $5 million matching grant from John, Michelle, Mario, and Therese Molina, $5 million from American Honda Motor Co., Inc., and $1.9 million from the San Gabriel and Lower Los Angeles Rivers and Mountains Conservancy. Private donations and commitments of $1 million or more have been generously given by James and Marilyn Simons, Dr. Allen and Charlotte Ginsburg, Don Temple Family Charitable Foundation, Premier/SMG, and an anonymous donor. Additional support for Pacific Visions comes from foundations, corporations, individual donors and gifts made anonymously.
“The Rivers & Mountains Conservancy has been a supporter of the Aquarium since it first opened in 1998, and we are very pleased to be here in support of Pacific Visions and the educational opportunities that will be available in this expansion and beyond,” said Frank Colonna, RMC Board Chair. “It is critical, especially today with the threats of climate change and the drought that we’re currently facing, that Southern California has a place to learn about these issues. As the representative for the Board, I couldn’t be more proud of what the Aquarium has accomplished and look forward to what is yet to come.”
Members of the public can support this important project by making an online donation at aquariumofpacific.org/news/pacificvisions and on site while visiting the Aquarium. In support of its Pacific Visions expansion, the Aquarium recently created the Glass Guild, a giving opportunity for individuals, corporations, and foundations wishing to contribute to the project and commemorate their ties to the Aquarium. This group of supporters will ceremonially own one of the 839 panels of the Pacific Visions glass façade and will be recognized on a donor wall inside the new wing, on the Aquarium’s website, and in various publications, including the annual report.
Check to see updates on social media with #PacificVisions