Big changes are ashore at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium, following the announcement of a 10-year initiative to transform the park and jumpstart the rebirth of Coney Island.
The public-private initiative, called “A Sea Change,” will include a major renovation that better integrates the Coney Island boardwalk. It will also spur new efforts to protect local marine life in New York Harbor. WCS announced the plan together with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and City Councilman Domenic M. Recchia, Jr.
In addition to an expanded marine conservation program, the plan will create a variety of new and renovated exhibits, including expanded indoor guest experiences. A state-of-the-art Ocean Wonders exhibit will feature a dramatic new shark exhibit with more indoor space for better year-round conditions. Conservation Hall will be completely renovated to showcase several aquatic habitats under protection by WCS, and the Aquatheater will better connect our guests with our animal ambassadors and to our conservation mission. The Aquarium will also look different from its shore border—a new exterior along the Boardwalk and Surf Avenue will connect the park to the ocean. The new “green” design and infrastructure will also result in a more sustainable facility.
“A Sea Change at the New York Aquarium will establish once again WCS’s leadership in Brooklyn’s cultural environment and anchor the aquarium in the renaissance of Coney Island,” said Dr. Steven E. Sanderson, WCS President and CEO.
“We thank Mayor Bloomberg, BP Markowitz and City Councilman Recchia for sharing this vision and supporting this project. This is a special moment in the history of the New York Aquarium where private donors, foundations and corporations can join with the city of New York and the Borough of Brooklyn to help fulfill the promise of this beloved cultural icon. This is a perfect opportunity for any business that does business in Brooklyn or wants to do business in Brooklyn to show support for this community.”
Mayor Bloomberg reflected on the future of Brooklyn’s number one tourist destination. “With the City's plan to revitalize the amusement district, Coney Island is poised for exciting growth and the New York Aquarium is an important part of that vision,” he said. “For more than fifty years, the Aquarium has welcomed millions of New Yorkers and visitors to the People's Playground, and the expansion of the Aquarium will ensure that it does so for generations to come.”
A Sea Change is a partnership among the Wildlife Conservation Society, New York City, and the Borough of Brooklyn, along with support from private donors. Together, these partners will raise the needed investment. While the initial investment is $100 million, the complete cost will be determined as the project moves forward.
The New York Aquarium is the oldest continuously operating aquarium in the U.S. Three quarters of a million people visit every year. Through its 52 years at Coney Island, it has grown to be the most popular cultural attraction in Brooklyn. In addition, it is an officially designated Coastal Education Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and a touchstone for science education citywide.
In 2008 alone, 20,000 children participated in formal education programs at the aquarium and nearly 200,000 schoolchildren visited with their groups.
“A Sea Change at the WCS NY Aquarium is deeply embedded in Coney Island’s history and will enhance it, not bury it,” said Sanderson.