Aquarium of the Pacific planning $53 million expansion

Artists' rendering of the planned expansion of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. (Courtesy Aquarium of the Pacific)

The Aquarium of the Pacific is planning a $53 million wing that represents the first major expansion in its 18-year history.

The whale-shaped Pacific Visions wing will include a state-of-the-art immersive theater, a new art gallery, 6,000 square feet of floor space for animal exhibits and room for cultural events.

The 300-seat Honda Pacific Visions Theater will feature a curved 130-foot by 32-foot screen and a retractable 30-foot-diameter floor projection disc that are intended to immerse visitors in a virtual ocean environment.

"We want our visitors to leave Pacific Visions feeling more deeply engaged with the living ocean, knowledgeable about the challenges that face it and us, and empowered to make better decisions and share their new understanding with others," said Dr. Jerry R. Schubel, president/CEO of the aquarium.

The new wing is scheduled to open in 2018. When completed, the aquarium's capacity will expand to 2 million visitors per year.

Financing for the project came in part from a $15 million grant from the city of Long Beach; $5 million from American Honda Motor Co.; and a $5 million matching grant from former aquarium chairman Dr. J. Mario Molina of Molina Healthcare and several of his family members.
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