Great Lakes Aquarium Breaks Attendance Record

The newest exhibit, Unsalted Seas, features the largest sturgeon tank in North America.

DULUTH, Minn. – “If you’ve gone on a visit to the Great Lakes Aquarium in 2017, you”ve helped set a 15 year attendance record.

A total of 162, 676 people made the Aquarium 2017’s number one paid attraction in Duluth.

Attendance grew almost 14 percent, which is the greatest one year growth in the Aquarium’s history.

Aquarium staff say memberships for both tourists and locals are on the rise and growing at the same rate.

“Attendance is a long–term strategy,” said Great Lakes Aquarium Executive Director Joe Montisano. “I mean really, from all of the work we did the last ten years, let’s say in building this place, sculpting the visitor experience and really trying to create the best product we have with the best animals we have.”

Montisano says many things contribute to the Aquarium’s growth over the years, including the 43 person staff that work there. He says it’s gratifying to have people appreciate that.

“Constantly building the product and keeping the visitor experience in mind is one of the things on our forefront. What are the guests that come here see? How do they experience? They get to touch things? What’s their takeaway, basically? What do they go home with? They get to touch a skunk, sturgeon,” said Montisano. “It’s a rare experience a lot of time and so I think it plays well to what they remember and the good things we have to offer them.”

For 2018 the Aquarium has plans to draw in more visitors with adult friendly activities.

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