Port Townsend Marine Science Center adds new tank

Exhibit added at museum, which is preparing for downtown move

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend Marine Science Center is in the process of moving its exhibits out of the aquarium facility on the pier at Fort Worden as it prepares for a move sometime in the future.

The center’s aquarium has been on the pier at Fort Worden State Historical Park since 1982, but in 2019, the state Parks and Recreation Commission determined the pier needed to be replaced.

In 2021, PTMSC purchased a building at 1001 Water St. for $2.2 million and has been phasing its move off the pier.

But center officials don’t know exactly when the move will be finalized, according to executive director Diane Quinn, so for now, PTMSC is transitioning its exhibits, animals included, out of the aquarium building.

“It’s going to take us a good year to transition animals off the pier,” Quinn said. “We’re not moving downtown right now.”

Officials at PTMSC don’t know when the pier will be rebuilt, but this will be the last summer the aquarium building on the pier will be open to the public. In anticipation of the move, the center has started modifying its museum building — located across Battery Way at Fort Worden — to accommodate the wet exhibits found at the aquarium.

The center recently installed a 150-gallon tank, which, over the coming weeks, will be filled with local flora and fauna.

Quinn said some of the animals in the aquarium’s collection will be transferred, fostered or, in some cases, released, pending proper paperwork.

The aquarium typically closes after the Thanksgiving holiday and reopens in the spring, but Quinn said after this season, the building on the pier will remain mostly closed to the public. The center will keep the aquarium functioning but only to house animals and other sealife.

Quinn said PTMSC is organizing its move into phases, and each phase is being crafted to have as little disruption as possible to public programs.

The center completed Phase 1 of the move in 2022, when it opened several exhibits at the downtown location, known as the Flagship Landing Building. Eventually, the Water Street location will be home to the center’s visitor exhibits, the gift shop, laboratories and offices.

While the main visitor experience will be located downtown, Quinn said PTMSC will retain the museum building onshore at Fort Worden, using it as a kind of field station for the center’s programs.

The Flagship building will need extensive renovations. Quinn couldn’t say when that process would begin but suggested it was still several years away.

The museum and aquarium are open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday, and the center offers a range of public programs, including guided low-tide walks and camps and classes for children and teens.


Reporter Peter Segall can be reached by email at peter.segall@peninsuladailynews.com.

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