Meet our CEO and the leaders of the Aquarium's major departments.
The National Aquarium is a nonprofit organization that connects people with nature to inspire compassion and care for our ocean planet.
Board of Directors
Meet the National Aquarium's Board of Directors.
Meet some of our experts in conservation, animal welfare, animal rescue and more.
Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice
The National Aquarium is dedicated to cultivating and advancing the principles of diversity, equity, inclusion and justice in all that we are and all that we do. We understand that successfully creating a global community of hopeful conservationists united to restore our planet requires connecting with and appreciating the broad diversity of identities, backgrounds, experiences and perspectives that individuals may have.
We affirm our dedication to making the National Aquarium more inclusive, accessible and welcoming to people from all backgrounds. This commitment requires recognition of and reconciliation with the social, economic, historical and political contexts of systemic oppression that contribute to disparities within our society at large and within the City of Baltimore. Our commitment to DEIJ will be ongoing, require iteration and learning, and will be embedded within all aspects of our work.
At the National Aquarium, our core values form the basis for our beliefs about our organization, our colleagues and ourselves, and serve as the framework to guide our behavior and actions to achieve our mission: to connect people with nature to inspire compassion and care for our ocean planet.
We take the time to build lasting connections with each other, our guests, the animals in our care and the nature that surrounds us. We communicate clearly and collaborate readily within and across teams. We engage thoughtfully with our partners. We practice shared accountability.
Outcomes: Empathy, Engagement, Impact, Trust, Understanding
We center learning and growth in all that we do. Our people are empowered to explore new approaches. We support taking risks. We value diverse perspectives and bold ideas. We embrace change.
Outcomes: Creativity, Inclusion, Innovation, Flexibility, Openness, Relevance
We celebrate the power of positive moments and shared experiences. We seek out opportunities to have fun. We reconnect with our purpose through sharing successes with our colleagues.
Outcomes: Enthusiasm, Fulfillment, Hope, Joy, Meaningful Relationships, Pride
We are in service to each other, our guests and our communities. We make intentional decisions and actions for the benefit of the animals and people within our organization.
Outcomes: Engagement, Integrity, Kindness, Leadership, Respect, Trust
We ensure our people and animals have what they need mentally and physically to thrive. We are committed to improving the wellbeing of communities and sharing the healing power of nature for all.
Outcomes: Accessibility, Care, Environmental Justice, Equity, Inclusion
The nonprofit National Aquarium opened on August 8, 1981—the jewel of Baltimore City's Inner Harbor redevelopment. With a mission to connect people with nature to inspire compassion and care for our ocean planet, the Aquarium is consistently ranked as one of the nation's top three aquariums. It is also Maryland's largest paid tourist attraction, featuring thousands of fishes, birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals in award-winning habitats.
The nation's first public aquarium was originally established in 1873 in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In 1878, this aquarium moved to Washington, D.C., to the site of the Washington Monument, and in 1932, was incorporated into the lower level of the Department of Commerce building. Federal funds were eliminated from the operating budget for the National Aquarium in Washington, D.C., in 1982. Threatened with closing, the National Aquarium Society was formed to keep the Aquarium open.
Meanwhile, during the 1970s, Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer conceived and championed the idea of an aquarium as a vital component in the redevelopment of Baltimore's Inner Harbor. In 1976, Baltimore City residents voted on a bond referendum in favor of building an aquarium in Baltimore. Groundbreaking for the facility on Pier 3 took place on August 8, 1978. In 1979, the new aquarium was recognized by the United States Congress, which granted the facility "national" status. The National Aquarium in Baltimore opened to the public on August 8, 1981.
Buoyed by its success as a world-class attraction and developing center for science and education, the Aquarium embarked on its first expansion near the end of the decade. The pavilion on Pier 4 opened just in time for the holiday season in December 1990. In 2005, the Aquarium expanded by 65,000 square feet to include the new Australia: Wild Extremes exhibit.
In 2003, the National Aquarium Society Board of Directors signed an alliance agreement with the Board of Directors of the National Aquarium, Baltimore, enabling the two aquariums to work together to strengthen the exhibits and educational impact of the National Aquarium.
In 2013, National Aquarium, Washington, D.C., closed its doors to the public, due to necessary renovations in the Department of Commerce. At that time, the Baltimore location provided a new home for approximately 1,700 animals and the institution in the Inner Harbor became the sole National Aquarium.
The Aquarium Today
Today, the National Aquarium builds on its rich history of local, regional and global conservation initiatives that provide real solutions for protecting aquatic and marine life alongside human communities. We prioritize our work to focus on combatting climate change, saving wildlife and habitats, and stopping plastic pollution, and we advocate for smarter policies at local, state and federal levels. We have rescued, rehabilitated and released hundreds of marine mammals and endangered sea turtles throughout the mid-Atlantic region, and are active participants in important research efforts. We educate thousands of students each year, helping to create the next generation of environmental stewards. Through education, research, conservation action and advocacy, the National Aquarium is creating a global community of hopeful conservationists, united to restore our planet.
Our Future BLUEprint
Advancing this vision means evolving what we do and how we do it to effectively engage and inspire the next generation of conservationists. Our work begins within our walls as we inspire millions of guests each year to conserve and care for Earth's aquatic treasures. Beyond the National Aquarium itself, we are finding compelling new ways to share our conservation mission with as many people as possible.
With the invaluable support of our partners—including Studio Gang, an architecture and design house; IMPACTS Research and Development, a market analytics firm; and Ayers Saint Gross, a Baltimore-based architecture firm—we have developed a strategic vision to ensure the long-term impact and relevance of the National Aquarium.
Three keystone projects form the foundation of this vision, which we call our BLUEprint—the Animal Care and Rescue Center, Dolphin Sanctuary, and National Aquarium Harbor Wetland presented by CFG Bank.
You can help by contacting our team to learn how you can make a difference.
Reports & Financials
Report Impact Report
Financial Audited Financial Statements
Financial IRS Form 990
Report CareFirst Services
National Aquarium Foundation
The National Aquarium Foundation, Inc. (NAF) is a nonprofit, charitable support organization incorporated in Maryland and operated exclusively to receive and hold certain funds and assets from individuals, institutions and public agencies that constitute the endowment funds for the National Aquarium, Inc. NAF owns, manages and invests funds and assets it receives; to the extent it deems necessary or desirable, NAF may at times provide financial support to the National Aquarium to advance its mission to inspire conservation of the world's aquatic treasures. Contributions to NAF are tax-deductible within the guidelines of U.S. tax law.
- Xuying Chang
- Todd Chester
- David Churchill
- Merrie Mowen
- Charles Phillips
- Anna Smith
- Jennifer Ventimiglia