Note: The Aquarium has been permantly closed!
This site is for illustrative purposes of past work by Internet Easy-Access, Inc.
You might well wonder: What is the Aquarium Center? How did it get here?
How long has it been here? Who runs it?
What is the future of this Public Aquarium? Can I help out somehow?
What is the Aquarium Center? Well, to make a long story short, the Aquarium
Center is a true Public Aquarium, just like the famous Steinhart Aquarium in
San Francisco, the John G. Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, etc. We are a lot
smaller, but we have the same goals: to show the greatest variety possible of
the world's fish, in the best possible way. Of course, we don't have the
size or the financial resources of the big Public Aquariums, so our exhibits
have a lot smaller aquariums. Our aquarium tanks range from one gallon up to
375 gallon tanks, with the majority of the tanks being 70 gallon ones. Our
fish come from all over the world, representing all of the world's major
ecosystems and all 7 of the world's oceans. They range in size from tiny
babies about a half inch long up to some over 40 pound weight Pacus from the
How did we get here? Well, about 18 years ago a small group of aquarium
enthusiasts decided Des Moines needed a Public Aquarium, and dedicated
themselves to funding and building one. The major contributors to our initial
building are listed on the wall just inside our front door. An unbelievable
amount of work was realized when the Aquarium Center was officially opened by
then Governor Robert D. Ray in a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Who runs the Aquarium Center? Well, this Public Aquarium is owned and
operated by the Greater Iowa Aquarium Association - a fish club. That's
right. The lion's share of the work involved in the maintenance and operation
of this facility is accomplished by VOLUNTEERS! The entrance fee you paid and
any "profits" from the Souvenir and Shell Jewelry Sales Area provide the
entire operating budget for this facility. We receive no State, County, City,
of Federal funding at all. All that you see here has been accomplished by
dedicated aquarium buffs, ordinary folks. Perhaps folks just like you!
What is our future? Well, the Iowa State Fair Board has some really nice
plans for this end of the Fairgrounds, but we aren't included. So, we are
looking for a new home. The Des Moines Kiwanis International is including
space for a Public Aquarium in their plans for the RiverView Park Nature
Center. We are working with them and supporting their fund raising efforts. It
is our plan to give them our entire facility, including the tanks, fish,
equipment, and all of the benefit of our experience in operating a high
quality Public Aquarium on a shoestring.
What could you do to help? Well, we would certainly welcome you as a Member
of the Greater Iowa Aquarium Association. No, you don't have to be a fish
expert. You don't even have to have any fish tanks at all. All you need is a
genuine interest in fish! (And, of course, you DO have to pay your dues!)
Membership applications are available back by the Souvenir Counter. Club
Meetings are held right here, in the back room, on the first Tuesday of each
and every month. Club members are eligible to "adopt" a tank, agreeing to
help in the maintenance of "their"tank. Our Curator LISTENS to suggestions
from members-you might even be able to design an exhibit yourself and see it
accomplished. Club Members also "Fish-Sit" each weekend. You see, there are
two part time folks on a small salary who run the Aquarium Center during the
week, and volunteers are needed to run it on the weekends.
In closing, you are viewing a very unique Public Aquarium. This is the only
one in the world that is owned and operated purely in the Public Interest, on
a non-profit basis, by an Aquarium Club. Would you like to join us?
Visit the Aquarium Center
Iowa State Fairgrounds
E. 30th & Grand Ave. Gate
Des Moines, Iowa.
Open 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM Daily - 515-263-0612
Greatest Little Aquarium in the World!!!
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Send your Comments and Questions to aquainfo@IowaAquarium.org
Last Updated: May 31, 1997
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