The good news is that the Aquarium of the Pacific announced on Tuesday the grand opening of Pacific Visions, the first major expansion of the facility since its 1998 opening. The bad news is that the opening isn’t until May 24, which means folks will have to wait about five months for the two-story, 29,000-square-foot space featuring an immersive theater with a screen just slightly smaller than Delaware.
We can talk about the rest of the exhibition space—the art gallery as well as the Front Pavilion which will host outdoor events, festivals and programs—later, but what you really want to hear about is that theater, right? OK, the state-of-the-art theater houses a 130-foot-wide by 32-foot-tall screen that curves in a 180-degree arc. It also features a 30-foot-diameter floor projection disc, which will further immerse visitors in a virtual ocean environment in a space designed to host media-rich performances, panel discussions, community meetings and educational seminars. No word if/when it will host upcoming Super Bowl parties (fingers crossed).
Pacific Visions is designed to become the new focal point of the Aquarium, providing a platform to integrate the arts and sciences while offering visitors innovative ways to explore human beings’ impact on Earth and the oceans.
Spoiler alert: It’s not good.
Pacific Visions continues the Aquarium’s direction of not only providing a space to see and learn about the ocean and the plants and animals that live in it, but to become a kind of combination science center, art gallery, performing arts space and think tank to explore solutions to some of the planet’s biggest environmental challenges.
See, when it comes to the water around us, humans have kind of acted like that guy on the freeway who makes a lot of questionable choices regarding direction and safety, and the ocean has been forced to lay harder and harder on the horn. To study that relationship, as well as offer some solutions, Pacific Visions’ programs will tackle issues such as climate change, extreme weather, sea level rise, water shortages and creating a food supply to feed an additional 2.5 billion people by farming the land and the sea.
“The Aquarium is taking a bold, unconventional path with Pacific Visions,” said Jerry R. Schubel, Aquarium of the Pacific president and CEO. “Rather than focusing on bigger exhibits and more spectacular animals, the new wing will turn the spotlight on the one species on our planet that is changing the future for all others—humans. Pacific Visions is the culmination of more than a decade of planning. It will challenge our visitors to examine human impact on our ocean planet and engage in the choices that will reduce that impact.”
The exterior of Pacific Visions is that glass, blue whale looking structure you have watched slowly develop, made with more than 800 uniquely shaped panels covering an area of 18,000 square feet, creating the building’s dramatic curves.
Once inside, visitors will enter Pacific Visions through a 2,800-square-foot art gallery and into a 2,600-square-foot space showcasing an 18-foot-wide virtual waterfall with interactive elements that respond to movement. A 26-foot-wide by 8-foot-tall media wall will feature a film that introduces visitors to the history of life on Earth, the effects of humans on the planet’s biodiversity and opportunities to turn the tide as the world’s population approaches 10 billion people in 2050. Those themes will be further explored when visitors enter the two-story, 300-seat Honda Pacific Visions Theater.
Enjoy! Well, in five months …
Steve Lowery is the Long Beach Post's Arts & Culture editor. You can follow him @SteveLowery12.
Support our journalism.
It’s been one year since the Long Beach Post began asking you, our readers, to contribute to keeping local journalism alive in the city.
Thousands have contributed over the past year giving an average contribution of $12.39 a month.
Please consider what the news and information you get every day from the Post means to you, and start a recurring monthly contribution now. READ MORE.