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Community News

Aquarium Opening Retail Store

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 9

The Aquarium of the Pacific will open its newly designed and expanded retail store as the nonprofit’s 15th anniversary approaches. The Pacific Collections gift store will span over 5,000 square feet and feature a glass façade with a large-scale underwater image of a kelp forest off the coast of California’s Channel Islands.

The design allows daylight to stream in through the kelp windows, creating a sense of being in front of a massive aquarium. The new retail space officially opens May 24, 2013.

The Aquarium will showcase work by local artisans, fine art, and new types of merchandise in Pacific Collections, and Aquarium visitors will be able to choose from a larger selection of eco-friendly products. “By providing visitors with a selection of Earth-friendly, locally produced, high-quality gifts and souvenirs, the Aquarium fulfills its vision to conserve nature and its resources by building relationships between and among people.

The new space also helps strengthen the Aquarium’s connection to the arts,” said Jeff Spofford, Aquarium of the Pacific retail director. Construction on this expansion began in September 2012 with major work by EHDD (architect), TG Construction, Inc. and Corman & Associates, Inc.

Local firms involved in the project include Ellis Excavating, Palomo Steel, and The Tile Zone. The Aquarium commissioned underwater photographer Jim Hellemn to create the kelp forest fa-çade.

Hellemn’s photography has appeared in National Geographic magazine and in the American Museum of Natural History. He designs his own equipment and has developed techniques to photo-graph underwater scenes incrementally, often taking hundreds of photographs and months of work to make a single image. His life-sized image of Bloody Bay Wall in the Cayman Islands is the highest-resolution photograph of a coral reef ever captured.