The Sant Ocean Hall opened on September 27, 2008, at the National Museum of Natural History to reveal a 23,000 square foot exhibit designed around the message: The ocean is a global system essential to all life. Five years in the making, this exhibit weaves more than 600 specimens and models - and a 1,500 gallon Indo-Pacific coral reef aquarium - with high definition imagery, innovative computer interactives, and a virtual submersible expedition to the seafloor.
The 30-year "permanent" exhibit responds to the calls of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and U.S. Ocean Action Plan to manage the ocean wisely and build public support for a healthy ocean. It will be kept current through updateable exhibits, such as NOAA's Science On a Sphere, an animated globe that displays Earth's environmental processes; the NOAA-designed Ocean Today Kiosk, which allows visitors to access data and recent discoveries through multimedia offerings; and an Ocean as a Laboratory station, which highlights novel research and the people behind it.
The Smithsonian-NOAA partnership to create a national exhibition on the ocean began in 2003 and was made possible through financial support from Congress. Sant Ocean Hall received more than 42,000 visitors its first day, and the exhibit entertains and informs an average of five million people annually. The Hall's information and stewardship messages are carried through shared content to kiosks in museums and aquariams in Coastal Ecosystem Learning Centers nationwide, as well as through the museum's public programming. The exhibit will be leveraged further through a collaborative partnership among the museum, NOAA, and the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence Network.
Sant Ocean Hall is a cornerstone of the Smithsonian's Ocean Initiative, which is designed to bring science and education together. The initiative includes a new Ocean Portal, a cross-cutting museum marine science and collection program, and a national exhibition on the global ocean.
Sant Ocean Hall will be open for 25+ years and kept current through the efforts and imaginations of those at the Smithsonian, NOAA, and other ocean collaborators and organizations.
Discover more about the National Museum of Natural History Sant Ocean Hall at http://www.mnh.si.edu/exhibits/ocean_hall/.