For 32 years, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center has invited visitors to dive into the wonders of our marine environment. From education programming to boat trips to membership, the Aquarium brings this incredible world to your door, inviting you to learn more about our world oceans. We're excited to share some of the big changes coming soon to the Marsh Pavilion as we prepare for a completely redesigned building with new exhibits and offerings. But before we get too far, here's what you need to know about our timeline for the renovation.
Beginning on September 4, 2018, you will notice changes to the Marsh Pavilion that include some areas closed to guests and some exhibits moved around. On September 4, you will no longer be able to visit the venomous and non-venomous snakes, blue crab exhibit, fiddler crab exhibit, and snapping turtle exhibit. But don't worry- we'll have some interesting new additions, too! You'll find our tree frog exhibit, our Ornate Uromastyx, and our Tokay gecko in the Marsh Pavilion. And you'll still be able to visit your favorite North American river otters and Russell the crow. Please note that your favorite toddler programs will be conducted in the Main Building for the duration of construction.
The current plan is to close the modified Marsh Pavilion to guests on January 2, 2019 to begin key phases of our renovation plan, including final move out for our animals and staff. While you won't be able to see our otters during the renovation, we will post updates on Tippy, Homer, and Sheldon as often as we can. They're still an important part of our family and will be an exciting inclusion in our new South Building, the name for the renovated building.
The Adventure Park will be open during construction, as the park will have a temporary entrance from the parking lot.
When the South Building reopens in 2021, here's what you can expect:
- Explore the Jelly Gallery sponsored by the Dreyfus Family featuring dramatic displays of live jellies from around the world.
- Investigate the unique adaptations of marine creatures in the Undersea Super Powers Gallery sponsored by the Brock Family, which will feature a giant Pacific octopus aquarium and an Indo-Pacific invertebrate touch pool.
- Take your toddler to a new Toddler Play Area featuring favorite age-appropriate activities themed around the ocean, science, and nature.
- Watch the otters frolicking in their pool while enjoying lunch or a snack in a new Café.
- Go outside to explore the Watershed Exhibit sponsored by Jane Batten, a hands-on area with water experiments, pollution solution activities, and marine scientist role play and to play in the Otter Den, where you can try the otter slide and climb into a den to peek inside the otter habitat.
In addition, we are adding a new Vet Center connected to the South Building that will house the staff and facilities needed to care for our animals. You'll get a glimpse into our behind-the-scenes work here in the Windows into Conservation Gallery. In this gallery, observe vet staff examining animals in a treatment room, watch our chemists at work in the water quality lab, and see some of the animals that we raise as part of conservation research projects. For our young guests, there will be a space to role play as a wildlife vet and a field biologist.
It's going to be an exciting few years, and we hope you'll continue to join us on this journey!