Community

Showing Baltimore our gratitude through reliable access and innovative community programming.

Our Work

The National Aquarium's connection to Baltimore, to Maryland and to the entire Chesapeake region is not simply a matter of location; these are our communities. Our mission to inspire conservation of the world's aquatic treasures is deeply rooted here in Baltimore, and we carry this mission beyond our walls by providing accessible education experiences, innovative conservation initiatives and ample opportunity for reliable Aquarium access through an array of socially valuable programs.


Locals Visit for Less

Baltimore, this is YOUR Aquarium! We're proud to offer an ever-expanding lineup of opportunities for local residents to visit for free or reduced admission.

We encourage you to take advantage of the range of programs and events available to our surrounding communities. Please consult our calendar of events for specific dates and restrictions.

Our annual celebration of sea-star students, with complimentary Aquarium access for scholars and their families! This special opportunity will be presented on Tuesday, June 13 and Thursday June 15, 2023; more details to follow. Capacity is limited.

Please sign up to receive information about future School Shell-ebration events.

Presented by Pepsi

Every Friday, Aquarium admission is half-price after 5 pm.

Presented by M&T Bank

Show your state pride! Maryland residents can visit the Aquarium before noon Monday through Friday year-round for a reduced price. You must purchase tickets for Maryland Mornings on-site at the Aquarium; blackout dates apply. Visit our special offers page to learn more.

On the evening of October 27, 2023, guests can explore the wonders of the aquatic world with free Aquarium admission as part of Baltimore Office of Promotion & The Arts' Free Fall Baltimore celebration. Tickets for this free event are only available online, must be reserved in advance and are limited to six per registration. Reservations will open later this year.

Because of the popularity of this event, no tickets will be available at the door on the evening of the event and the Aquarium will sell out.

For two weeks in January, Maryland guests may explore the wonders of the aquatic world with free Aquarium admission as part of Downtown Partnership's Downtown Discovery Days initiative designed to provide affordable access to Baltimore's cultural and arts institutions. Each year, the Aquarium distributes a minimum of 10,000 pre-reserved tickets through our timed reservation system over the course of the two-week promotion.

Our 2023 event has concluded. Please check back in December for information about our 2024 Downtown Discovery Days celebration.

Read to Reef

Free Aquarium admission is available to young readers and their families each spring and fall through participation in our book club! New seasons begin in March and October when bookmarks become available at Enoch Pratt Free Library branches.

In partnership with Enoch Pratt Free Library

Read to Reef: Spring 2023 Season

Bookmarks for the spring 2023 season of Read to Reef are available to Baltimore-area children in fifth grade and younger from Enoch Pratt Free Pratt Library branches throughout March 2023, or while supplies last. Readers have until June 18, 2023, to complete their reading and visit the National Aquarium.

We are requiring all Read to Reef guests to reserve their timed entries to the Aquarium in advance. Click below to reserve a timed entry using your Read to Reef bookmark code.

Please note that Read to Reef bookmarks and corresponding National Aquarium tickets are intended only for Baltimore City students in fifth grade or younger. If you're in possession of a Read to Reef bookmark and can't use it, please give it to a young reader in your life.

Baltimore-area children in fifth grade and younger with a valid Enoch Pratt Free Library card may receive a Read to Reef bookmark and record the five aquatic- or conservation-themed books they have read that are appropriate for their age levels. Children may receive one bookmark per program season.

Did you know your child can have their own library card? Visit the Enoch Pratt Free Library website to learn how to apply. Please note the child must be present with parent, grandparent or legal guardian when registering.

Bookmarks for the spring 2023 season will be available from Enoch Pratt Free Library branches throughout March 2023, or while supplies last.

You have until June 18, 2023, to complete your reading and visit the Aquarium.

Blackout dates for the spring season are April 7-8, 2023; April 10, 2023; and May 27-29, 2023.

  • Bookmark must be completed in full with the titles of five books the child has read before arrival at the Aquarium.
  • All Read to Reef guests must reserve their visit date and entry time in advance through our online ticket reservation portal. You will use the alphanumeric code printed on the bottom of your bookmark when reserving your tickets online. This code can only be used once for a maximum of four tickets. Children 4 years and younger do not require tickets. If you do not use all four tickets in your transaction, they are forfeited and cannot be used on a separate day.
  • Tickets are available on a first-come, first-served basis through our online ticket reservation portal.
  • Guests will need to stop by the National Aquarium ticket center on the day of their visit to pick up their timed entry tickets.
  • The bookmark is for one-time-use and cannot be used for multiple visits.
  • Bookmark is void if perforation is detached.
  • The bookmark cannot be reproduced, is non-transferable, will not be replaced if lost and has no value.
  • Tickets do not include 4D Immersion Films, special programs or events.
  • Additional guests beyond the four admitted with the bookmark pay full admission rates.
  • Bookmarks are subject to availability while supplies last and expire on June 18, 2023. Blackout dates for the spring season are April 7-8, 2023; April 10, 2023; May 27-29, 2023.

How to Participate

Throughout the month of March 2023, Baltimore-area children in fifth grade and younger may visit any Enoch Pratt Free Library Branch and show their library card to receive a Read to Reef bookmark, while supplies last.

Check out the list of the National Aquarium's favorite aquatic- or conservation-themed books, or ask your librarian for suggestions. Borrow, read or listen to someone read any five of these books and record them on your Read to Reef bookmark.

Reserve your tickets before your visit through our online ticket reservation portal using the code found on your Read to Reef bookmark. You have until June 18, 2023, to complete your reading and visit the Aquarium.

Voyages

At the intersection of art and science lies Voyages, the Aquarium's original immersive event series for adults that inspires connection to nature and celebrates all things Baltimore.

What happens when we invite artists into our walls to reimagine the Aquarium experience into a one-of-a-kind immersive event? The answer is Voyages. For each event—or "chapter"—in the Voyages event series, we identify a Baltimore-based artist to spend time with our exhibits and expert staff, performing research on a conservation theme as they connect with scientists in the field to learn about their work. From these sparks of inspiration, the artist then creates an original work that translates all they've learned into an experience for event guests that presents their conservation theme through a unique artistic lens. Each chapter features local food and beverage vendors and culminates in an after party with a performance from a Baltimore-based headliner, resulting in an experience that is truly a representation and a celebration of the city we're proud to call home.

Check out our past and current Voyages chapters and sign up for our Voyages newsletter to get onboard the next trip.

Artist: Shodekeh (beatboxer, vocal percussionist, breath artist)

Research Subject: Biodiversity, with a focus on animal communication, bioacoustics and shared traits of musicality between animals and humans. Featuring Ashakur Rahaman of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's K. Lisa Yang Center for Conservation Bioacoustics.

Project: "Vymatics," a musical composition of six movements and poetry inspired by animal vocal calls. Accompanied by cymatic projection videos by visual artist Erica Hansen.

Artist: Baltimore musicians and composers Jessica Keyes and Patrick McMinn

Research Subject: Biodiversity in the Chesapeake Bay. Featuring lead scientist Imani Black, CEO and founder of Minorities in Aquaculture and shellfish aquaculture biologist.

Project: "Will the Great Water Remember," an original audiovisual composition that portrays systems and processes that make up the Chesapeake Bay.

We're excited to welcome award-winning interdisciplinary artist Nicoletta de la Brown as the featured artist for Voyages: Chapter 3! Experience Nicoletta's exploration of art and science in July 2023—sign up for our Voyages newsletter and be the first to know when tickets are on sale.

Nonprofit Partnership

As a nonprofit organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures, the National Aquarium is eager to support other organizations in achieving their missions as well. We believe that, working together in our roles as vital community resources, nonprofit organizations strengthen our neighborhoods and ensure that all Marylanders can enjoy access to a vibrant array of accessible educational and recreational opportunities. When we work together, we help our communities to fully participate in and benefit from everything our city, state and region have to offer while building stronger, more resilient communities.

The Aquarium receives hundreds of ticket donation requests each year from other community nonprofits for charitable or fundraising purposes. Thanks to the generosity of friends, corporate partners and foundations, we are able to help our fellow nonprofits by granting as many requests as we possibly can each year.

Please note: All ticket donation requests must be made via our online form at least two months in advance of your event for consideration.

Donation Criteria and Guidelines

  • The Aquarium will consider ticket donation requests from other 501(c)(3) organization serving Maryland communities. Preference is given to those that have conservation-focused missions or activities, promote successful outcomes for youth or families and help build strong communities.
  • We cannot grant requests involving animal interactions, memberships or behind-the-scenes tours.
  • All donation requests must be received a minimum of two-months prior to the date of the event. If your organization misses this deadline, feel free to submit your request for the next year.
  • While you are free to submit multiple requests for different events, the Aquarium will only fulfill one request per organization per year.

As part of our ongoing efforts to support fellow nonprofits, we also partner with wish-granting organizations, such as Make-A-Wish foundation. We also offer many affordable opportunities to visit, but do not make donations directly to individuals or individual families.

Thanks to the generous support of our corporate community, the Aquarium is able to provide complimentary Community Connections tickets to qualifying nonprofits organizations, allowing their members to experience the Aquarium as guests of our corporate family.

Please note: While all applications are thoughtfully reviewed and considered, applications from civic organizations or social clubs are generally not accepted.

Donation Criteria and Guidelines

  • The Aquarium's Community Connections program will consider requests from Maryland-based nonprofits with 501(c)(3) status. We require inclusion of tax-exempt documentation upon submission of your application for verification purposes.
  • Qualifying nonprofits must agree to assign a day-to-day administrator of ticket distribution or group booking.
  • Qualifying nonprofits must agree to complete an annual evaluation to review ticket program effectiveness and use.
  • Requests are accepted on a rolling basis. Please allow four-to-six weeks for review and response.
  • Requests may be made for individual tickets to distribute to your organization's constituents as you deem appropriate, or for group visits.
  • Once accepted, your application does not need to be resubmitted, but additional future ticket requests will be reviewed against new applications.

Thanks in part to Maryland State Department of Education grant funding, the National Aquarium is able to serve more than 100,000 schoolchildren annually. We offer free visits for all Maryland school groups, in addition to a variety of other free or discounted school programs. Therefore, requests for donations to schools are generally declined. To book your free field trip, please learn more here.

Exclusive Benefits for Nonprofits

The National Aquarium is committed to ensuring access for our community and is grateful for the support we receive from other businesses and organizations that choose to support us in achieving our mission. Though nonprofits are welcome to join at any level, we have established a special nonprofit membership level to engage as many qualifying organizations as possible. Make an impact by giving your colleagues and clients access to exclusive Aquarium member benefits and unforgettable experiences.

Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice

The National Aquarium is dedicated to creating an environment that is inclusive, equitable and accessible to people from all backgrounds. We cannot successfully change the way humanity cares for our ocean planet without connecting with and appreciating the broad diversity of identities, backgrounds, experiences and perspectives that make our community unique.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter Sign up to receive updates on animals, news and events.