New Early Learner Gallery and Aquarium Usher in Summer at Nauticus

Exploration and creativity anchor first-of-its-kind childrenโ€™s experience.

May 30, 2023

Nauticus opened its first-ever themed environment for early learners on Father's Day weekend. The 2,800-square-foot gallery space, entitled Aquaticus, takes children on a whimsical journey under the sea. Guests will spin a ship’s wheel to activate a “submerged” disco ball as thousands of beautiful silver bubbles rise towards the surface. Young visitors will explore a fanciful ship floating high above their heads and walk through a seagrass forest after discovering an underwater cave.

Aquaticus is the second exhibit gallery to open as part of Nauticus’ transformational redesign and is set to make a splash this summer. In addition, Nauticus’ adjoining aquarium will feature all new fish, new tanks, and educational content. Entitled Our Nautical Neighbors, the newly-designed aquarium showcases local fish species found in the Elizabeth River and Chesapeake Bay.

Aquaticus is a real first for us,” said Nauticus President and CEO, Stephen Kirkland.  “It’s purposefully designed to be enjoyed by multi-generational families and it’s just plain fun.  It brings out my inner Willy Wonka.” 

Aquaticus is the second permanent gallery space to open as part of the Reimagine Nauticus project, a $21.5 million transformation of the maritime discovery center.  The entire redesign project will be completed in 2024, including five state-of-the-art exhibit galleries, new aquarium features, a STEM Discovery Lab, and a refreshed entrance pavilion. This represents the largest enhancement and investment in Nauticus since it opened in 1994.

Aquaticus is named in memory of Howard & Nancy Spainhour. Timed tickets are required for entry and must be purchased online, please click here

For more information on Nauticus’ redesign project, including detailed descriptions of each gallery space, or for more information on how to support the Reimagine Nauticus Campaign, please visit  

Note that all tickets are timed tickets. GET TICKETS HERE