Hawaii’s most popular man-made attraction, Maui Ocean Center, is developing an exhibit master plan.
The project will include a 134-seat, fully immersive 3D theatre and several other exhibits, reports Maui News.
General Manager, Tapani Vuori, has been with the Maui Ocean Center since 2002. He said: “It’s going to be amazing. We are really hoping to make it something people have never seen before.”
The theatre will be part of a new Humpback Whale Discovery Center exhibit. It will be a large dome in the centre of the exhibit: “It’s like a huge military radar dome,” Vuori said.
Staff include an exhibit designer and a construction manager, who is working on final permit applications. A German filmmaker is producing a movie for the theatre.
Vuori hopes the theatre will be open early next year. “I can’t make any promises yet,” he said, “but all the people involved in the construction of this are really excited.”
A number of smaller exhibits will open before the theatre. Included in those will be exhibits showcasing global climate change and limu, or algae.
The center is set to attract 340,000 visitors this year, only topped by Haleakala National Park and Iao Valley.
Vuori said: “We’re going through a paradigm shift where we are really becoming a community resource. We are no longer just an aquarium.”
“We felt from the beginning that we have enough fundraising, which we’ve been able to do now, that we can hire a program manager that hopefully we can have in place for one year so we’re not just hiring somebody for two months and letting them go. We want to be very prudent in how we’re running it. We’re almost there.”
“This is our kuleana and what I mean about being a community stakeholder. We take positions and showcase to people what is important because we are the ocean experts. If it’s not us then who? This is our moral obligation and how passionate I feel about it.”