On Monday, Director of Education & Conservation, MaryEllen Mateleska attended the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Long Island Sound Futures Fund award ceremony, where she accepted two grant awards on behalf of Mystic Aquarium. Totaling over $34,000 these grants will provide for significant conservation and public engagement efforts focused on the water quality of Long Island Sound. Congratulations to MaryEllen Mateleska for her leadership on these important education and conservation initiatives!
At the November Board of Trustees meeting we announced that fundraising for the Dr. George M. and Carol Milne Conservation and Research Center is completed. This $2.7 million structure will be constructed in the Fall of 2018 and will be connected to the Wiederhold Center.
With the relocation of our biological laboratories to the University of Connecticut Avery Point earlier this year, the Milne Building will now house a comprehensive animal quarantine and breeding facility, a key resource for our animal husbandry operations and for our research programs. The building will house large and small tanks, extensive life support systems, and feature public access for behind the scene tours.
After extensive analysis by the Capital Projects Committee, Chairman of the Committee Tom Marra recommended, and the Board approved, the fall 2018 start date and the addition of a$3 million education building to be built adjacent to, and connected with, the Milne building.
The new complex is shown below. Phase 1, which is now complete, is the Wiederhold Foundation Veterinary and Animal Health Center. Phase 2 is the Milne Conservation and Research Center with tanks as described above. Phase 3 is the Education Building featuring a new main group entrance to Mystic Aquarium, a large auditorium, a touch tank and viewing windows into the Milne Center.
The second floor of the Education Building includes three large, dividable, high technology classrooms and offices for education staff.
Together, the Wiederhold Center, Milne Building, and the education building will greatly modernize and enhance our core mission activities in conservation, education and research. Scheduled for completion in early 2019, the entire project will cost $6.3 million. To date, $4 million has been raised for this project, with $3.3 million allocated for the Wiederhold and Milne Centers, and approximately $700,000 for design, architecture and mission programs related to conservation, education and research.
The $3 million cost of the new education center will be raised over several years, with at least $1 million of that needed by Fall 2018 so that construction can commence on the Milne Center and the connected Education Building.
The new complex was envisioned in the 2020 Master Plan and effectively frees up key exhibit space in the Main Aquarium building where classrooms, labs and offices are now located. At least three new galleries will be proposed for these spaces for construction as early as 2019.
More immediately, plans are well underway for a new exhibit in the Main Aquarium Building scheduled for debut in Spring 2017. The exhibit, “Weird and Wonderful”, features an exciting array of exotic species including Giant Japanese Spider Crabs, Garden Eels, Frogfish and a new Octopus exhibit.
This project will completely renovate a major gallery and, as much as the public side is important, it includes much needed renovation of infrastructure including life support systems, electrical systems, and pumps.
The exhibits will include extensive use of interactive media and new signage and interpretation in both Spanish and English.
We are definitely on the move at Mystic Aquarium. I am excited to see tangible progress towards our 2020 vision for the facility, along with implementation of our strategic plan. Like you, I am excited to have a firm start date for the Milne Center and a commitment to build the new education building simultaneously with that project.
See you all soon!