The National Aquarium is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the world's aquatic treasures.
Meet our CEO and the leaders of the Aquarium’s major departments.
Board of Directors
Meet the National Aquarium's Board of Directors.
Meet some of our experts in conservation, animal welfare, animal rescue and more.
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 inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures.
Be true. Build trust. Do right. We do the right thing and accept responsibility for that which is ours.
Be original. Challenge norms. Take chances. We support well-conceived risk taking, embrace creativity and consistently pursue new opportunities.
Be happy. Delight guests. Go beyond. We are committed to go to extraordinary lengths to delight our guests and inspire them to act to conserve the world’s aquatic treasures.
Be great. Dream big. Reach farther. Our drive toward excellence is evidenced by employee focus on accountability and exceeding expectations.
Be passionate. Inspire wonder. Make connections. Our staff and constituents inspire passion and a profound connection to the mission of the National Aquarium.
The nonprofit National Aquarium opened in 1981, the jewel of Baltimore City's Inner Harbor redevelopment. With a mission to inspire conservation of the world's aquatic treasures, the Aquarium is consistently ranked as one of the nation's top three aquariums and has hosted over 51 million guests since opening. It is Maryland's largest paid tourist attraction, with 20,000 fishes, birds, amphibians, reptiles and marine mammals living in award-winning habitats.
Today, the National Aquarium builds on a 35-plus-year 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 more than 100,000 students each year, helping to create the next generation of environmental stewards. Through education, research, conservation action and advocacy, the National Aquarium is pursuing a vision to change the way humanity cares for our ocean planet.
Based on a 2017 analysis by Sage Policy Group, the Aquarium annually generates nearly $455 million in economic activity across Maryland, with an impact of more than $360 million in Baltimore City, and this economic activity supports approximately 4,500 jobs.
Careers Join the Aquarium Team!
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.
Reports & Financials
Report 2020 Mission Impact Report
Financial Audited Financial Statements
Financial IRS Form 990
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.
- Michael Batza
- Todd Chester
- David Churchill
- Merrie Mowen
- Ed Nevin
- John Racanelli
- Anna Smith