The NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center’s Woods Hole Science Aquarium will reopen May 15. While the upper gallery will remain closed, the main gallery and seal enclosure will be open to the public. We are open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, and closed weekends and federal holidays.
A recent structural assessment of the aquarium’s partial basement noted deterioration in a section of the foundation and water reservoir wall, and recommended repairs. We immediately closed the aquarium building on May 1 out of an abundance of caution, while we determined the extent of the problem.
Since then, NOAA Fisheries’ Facilities, Safety, and Logistics Office staff conducted a site visit, and met with the company that conducted the structural assessment. As a result, our leadership has determined that we can safely reopen the main display area and second floor of the building. The main gallery sits on a slab, directly supported by the ground. The building’s second floor is supported by the exterior foundation walls and seven middle columns, independent of the basement foundation.
The structural assessment recommended shoring up the deteriorating section of basement foundation to reduce the load on the wall before reopening the upper gallery to visitors. The basement is under the upper gallery. This work is expected to be completed during the late summer or fall. We will also make future repairs to the foundation to reduce moisture in the basement, an underlying cause of the concrete and steel deterioration.
Spencer Baird, the founder of NOAA Fisheries, opened the original Woods Hole Science Aquarium for public visits in 1875 when it became part of the first research facility for the U.S Fish Commission. The intent was, and remains, to use this historic facility for public education and awareness about the NOAA Fisheries mission and other partner science institutions in Woods Hole, the little village with big science.