‘H2O: Watersheds at Work,’ Set to Replace Aging Water Table Exhibit at Great Lakes Aquarium

Demo Will Begin After Labor Day; The New Exhibit is Expected to be Open by November 20

DULUTH, Minn. – Chances are if you’ve visited the Great Lakes Aquarium over the past 21 years of its existence, you’ve submerged yourself in the interactive water table exhibit, learning firsthand why H2O is so important to life on earth.

Now since opening in 2000, change is coming to one of the aquarium’s most engaging displays.

“It supports life, it supports commerce, and it supports recreation,” said Jay Walker, executive director of the Great Lakes Aquarium.

Both humans and animals need it to survive.

In the Twin Ports, water serves as a way of life. From shipping to sightseeing to recreating year-round.

“It demonstrates being able to move boats through Lake Superior, through the locks on the Great Lakes,” said Walker.

Now the 21-year-old water table exhibit at the Great Lakes Aquarium is receiving a facelift of $450,000.

“The new version is exciting because we’ve learned something about the display over the years. It’s not the most accessible display for young children, or maybe someone in a wheelchair,” said Walker.

The current water table is tall, and wide – not the best fit for everyone splashing by.

The new exhibit, called “H2O: Watersheds at Work,” will feature hands-on interactive exhibits exploring the physical properties of water and how we can keep it clean.

“We’re going to have an exhibit that talks about water moving through our community,” said Walker. “To be able to understand it better is going to be really helpful to help us protect it.”

The current water-logged learning center will be demolished after Labor Day. Visitors will get to experience the new attraction beginning in late November.

“We’re really lucky to be where we are because we have trillions of gallons of fresh, clean water right out our door,” said Walker.

Work began years ago on the new exhibit, however, the COVID-19 pandemic sidelined completion. Aside from minor setbacks, the staff is simply thrilled to share a new wave of information thanks to state-of-the-art displays.

“This is just such a great way to have that hands-on connection to it, and one of the best ways to learn is to literally connect with something and put your hands in it, play with it,” said Walker.

A $150,000 grant from the Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund has been secured. The rest of the funding for the project will come from the operational budget, supported in large part by strong ticket sales in 2021.

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