The National Aquarium of Canada is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this year.
We talked to a curator who explained how she made it happen and why she loves the place so much.
The CBC News team: Chris Robinson, producer and host; Anne-Marie Nussbaum, reporter and producer.
The National Aquaria of Canada (NAC) is one of the world’s largest aquatic centres and is Canada’s oldest museum dedicated to aquariums.
It opened in 1989, at the time when there were just a handful of such museums in North America.
The aquarium, located at 709 Main Street West, has seen its fair share of controversy over the years.
In 2001, the aquarium was the site of the first anti-fish protest in North American history, which drew a mob of more than 100 people.
The next year, it hosted a demonstration by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business and a demonstration of the “pinkwashing” of animals.
In 2003, the NAC was the scene of the largest animal protest in Canada’s history, with over 500 animal activists marching from the centre to the park.
In 2012, NAC announced it was going to shut down its main aquarium facility, due to “economic and safety concerns,” which led to the closure of its main exhibition hall.
The closure was a huge setback for the aquarium, which lost millions in the previous years.NAC’s museum director, Mary Fuchs, said it was time to bring it back to life.
“We were just trying to figure out what to do with our facility, and we decided to open the new facility,” she said.
“It was a very challenging decision to make, because we knew that we were building a museum and that we had a history of working with animals and we had the passion for it.”NAC reopened the new museum in late 2017, just a few months before the end of its 10th year.
NAC staff have been working on a new exhibition called “An Evening of Animals,” and the aquarium’s curator, Anne-Maria Nussbaums, has been working with her team on the design.
“It’s not a museum,” Nussbeums said.
“The exhibition is just the centrepiece.
The whole idea is to make the aquarium look beautiful and the animals feel special.”
Nussbaum said NAC’s aquarium is a unique and special place, because it is so close to where she grew up.
“I love being in that little town of Karmel, on the border of Ottawa and Brantford,” she told CBC News.
“That’s where I was born, and I’m very close to the city.”
When NAC reopened, the new building was full.
There were a lot of changes to the facility, but NussBaums said the changes were not the biggest.
“The big change was we moved the exhibit hall to a different building,” she explained.
“And that was a big deal for us, because the exhibit halls are very big and we don’t have the space to do that.
So we had to move it out.”
The exhibit hall is still a big part of the aquarium.
The aquarium currently hosts more than 200 different exhibits, ranging from plants to sharks to marine life.
Nussbums said it is one area where the museum can expand its collection.
“You’ll have animals that have never been seen before, you’ll have plants that haven’t been seen anywhere before, and you’ll find everything from marine mammals to animals that haven, and then you’ll also have animals from a different species,” she noted.
“So we have a wide range of species, so we’ll have a lot to show you, and it’s very interactive, which we think is really exciting.”
The NAC has also been working to improve the aquarium itself.
The main aquarium has undergone several renovations over the past 10 years, including the addition of a new, larger, more spacious and more modern-looking glass enclosure, the creation of a water tower and a new exhibit hall that now features more animals.
Nausbaum said the new exhibits are also a good thing for the animals.
“They make a lot more sense,” she added.
“When we’re trying to think of things that we can do, we think about animals and their behaviour, and the exhibits give us a chance to really see what that animal’s behaviour looks like.”
As for the future, Nausbaums said she is happy to be a part of this new project.
“We’ve had a great time with the aquarium,” she concluded.
“But it’s also really exciting to see how many animals will come to see the exhibits.”