The anatomy of an exhibit

Ever wonder what it takes to create an exhibit at an Aquarium? It’s a huge team effort with two goals:  to offer a 090430-waterloghealthy habitat for the animals and a great visitor experience. We have been working dilligently for the last year to create Jellies Invasion: Oceans Out of Balance, opening Memorial Day weekend. With less than a month go, let’s take a look back at the process.

It’s not as easy as it sounds to bring a new animal collection into the fold. First, there is the issue of space―there is only so much of it. Jellies require much more water than the frogs that previously occupied the same area of the Aquarium. So the first order of business was to provide for sufficient water flow and drainage to the area.  Workers distributed water from the main building, poured a new concrete floor and created a trench drain system. Most of this work had to be done off-hours to minimize visitor inconvenience.

Next, the concept of the exhibit had to be realized.  It entails a substantial amount of creativity to mirror the mystery, eeriness and fluidity of prehistoric creatures like Jellies.  Our Exhibit and Design team prepared for months, designing for logistics, as well as architectural considerations, conceptualization and general structure.  They scoured exhibits in other industries, consulted with colleagues from other aquariums and revisited the success of our last Jellies exhibit, 1996’s Phantoms of the Deep. The result of the team’s exploration will be a futuristic feel with a combination of vibrant colors, LED lights, circular, fluid designs and an overall spooky, supernatural atmosphere. 

What about the animals? While the building process is taking place, our biological programs team has been busy collecting, maintaining and breeding the animals. With jellies, this can be particularly tricky, considering the aniamls have relatively short life spans and are extremely fragile.

The last step will be to merge the new inhabitants with the creative end.  The Jellies will be transported from the off-site facility to their new home very soon so they have time to adjust to their new environment!

As we prepare to open the new exhibit, we will be bringing you updates from the jellies lab and insider information on the jellies species that will be living at the Aquarium. Have you seen a Jellies exhibit before? Let us know what you liked best. Click here to sign up for Jellies email updates!

2 Responses to “The anatomy of an exhibit”


  1. 1 Jake June 9, 2009 at 11:56 am

    We understand the exhibit and animal side thanks! But what we really what to hear about is the carpenters, plumbers, electrians, fire protection, and ADA engineers stuff that goes with the anatomy of an exhibit. Highlights on these guys and gals.


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