September 22, 2019
New England Aquarium Plans Major Renovation this Fall

February 3, 2012 — The building boom among Boston area museums continues with the announcement today by the New England Aquarium that it will launch a 10-month, $15 million revitalization program in September.

The project, including renovation of a four-story, Caribbean coral reef exhibit, is part of a $42 million capital campaign that the New Aquarium began in 2007 and that is scheduled to conclude this year.

The Aquarium will remain open during the rebuild as most of the work will be conducted at night. While the work will not affect regular public hours, but, starting in the fall, a number of exhibits will be moved.

Nearly 900 species of aquatic animals, only a small number of species will not be seen during construction, according to the Aquarium. The majority of other exhibits, including a new shark and ray touch tank, a fur seal and sea lion center, and a harbor seal exhibit will be open as usual.

The $15 million, core renewal project is the final major project of the Mission Blue capital campaign that has included four other major upgrades to the Aquarium’s facilities: the harbor-side New Balance Foundation Marine Mammal Center, Trust Family Foundation Shark & Ray Touch Tank, John Prescott Research Lab, and the Animal Care Center in Quincy.

The campaign has also funded a number of new conservation, research, and education initiatives that are central to the Aquarium’s mission. The Aquarium has already raised $38.6 million, more than 90% toward goal.

The coral reef exhibit, known as the Giant Ocean Tank, will get a top-to-bottom transformation, including replacement of its 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 the Aquarium described as one of the most complex and sophisticated aquatic exhibits in the world.

Beyond the coral reef, construction this fall will also begin on:
  • A reflective ceiling dome that will help create a greater underwater ambience throughout the building.
  • Enhanced lighting.
  • A ramp to the top of the central tank, providing access for wheelchairs and strollers there for the first time.
  • Refinishing of surfaces throughout the main building.
  • New fire alarm and sprinkler systems.
The Aquarium project is the latest in a number of major fundraising, renovation, and construction projects undertaken or recently completed by museums in the greater Boston area, including those at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem.

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