National Aquarium to Begin Work on Outdoor Harbor Wetland Exhibit
Space will welcome guests for free while bringing salt marsh habitat back to the Inner Harbor
The National Aquarium is excited to announce that work will begin next month on Harbor Wetland, a groundbreaking outdoor exhibit set to debut in Summer 2024 between Piers 3 and 4 on the Aquarium's Inner Harbor campus. Developed over many years under the working name Waterfront Campus Plan, the project will pay homage to Baltimore's pre-industrial history as a tidal salt marsh while furthering the Aquarium's mission of environmental stewardship and conservation and engaging Baltimoreans and visitors with the Inner Harbor in a beautiful and functional wetland setting outside of the Aquarium's walls.
The project is made possible with the generous support of lead sponsor CFG Bank and will be accessible during National Aquarium operational hours to all guests and visitors at no charge.
"Our partnership with CFG Bank, under the direction of CFG Founder and Chairman of the Board, Jack Dwyer, has brought the development of this ten-year project to fruition," said Aquarium Senior Vice President & Chief Philanthropy Officer Scott Douglas Melton. "We are proud to once again take part in an era of exciting redevelopment for our neighborhood while forging a healthier future for the water that surrounds our campus."
Harbor Wetland is a testament to the National Aquarium's commitment to environmental restoration. This innovative exhibit reintroduces a vital ecosystem by recreating the natural salt marsh habitat that once thrived in Baltimore City through the installation of a network of floating manmade wetland "islands" installed with plants and grasses that attract and provide shelter for species native to the Inner Harbor.
This green infrastructure promotes cleaner, healthier water and attracts native species, including blue crabs, American eels, Eastern oysters and night herons. Harbor Wetland will also serve as an invaluable educational resource, offering students and guests a firsthand glimpse into the fascinating world of wetland ecosystems.
"Harbor Wetland is a completely new idea: a habitat, exhibit, and floating public park all in one. In a beautiful, accessible space, Baltimoreans and visitors alike will gain a new appreciation of the rich biodiversity of the Chesapeake Bay," said National Aquarium President & CEO John Racanelli. "Within the important redevelopment underway all around the Inner Harbor, our Harbor Wetland space helps set the stage for both the economic and ecological success of downtown Baltimore in the years ahead."
Work on the project will begin in November with the installation of pilings between Inner Harbor Piers 3 and 4 that will serve as the permanent infrastructure for the wetlands and walkways that will be put in place as the project progresses. Onlookers can expect to see the installation of floating docks and additional wetlands similar to the prototype currently visible in this space by spring. Interpretive signage will complete the project in the summer 2024.
National Aquarium Harbor Wetland is set to open in Summer 2024, offering visitors a unique opportunity to connect with nature and witness firsthand the transformative power of ecological restoration. Stay tuned for additional details as this project honors our city's environmental past and forges a sustainable future for Baltimore's Inner Harbor.