On November 15, the Seattle Aquarium hosted its Aquarium Open House event, an evolution of the Aquarium Family Night that had been held since 2005 in partnership with the Environmental Science Center.
The activity-filled evening event was designed to welcome and introduce the Seattle Aquarium to families living in south King County and Seattle who may not know about the Aquarium or see it as a place to visit. Invitations were distributed via selected members of the Aquarium’s Community Ticket program as well as the Environmental Science Center’s community partners.
All told, 809 people attended the event, including community partner staff and volunteers. Fifteen languages were spoken by the guests, nearly fifty percent of whom had never been to the Aquarium prior to the event. Over 60 volunteers helped keep activities running and offered translation of 12 separate languages. To help guests navigate the Aquarium and the 17 different activities offered, materials and signs were available in six languages. Each of the evening’s talks was presented in English and Spanish—the two most commonly spoken languages at the event.
One longtime staff member commented that it was the first time he’d ever walked through the Aquarium and not heard English being spoken. Comments Community Outreach Coordinator Janice Mathisen, who took the lead in organizing the event, “Walking through our Life on the Edge exhibit, watching families and volunteers with their hands in the tide pools, I saw so much excitement and interest—much of it coming from people who might never have experienced the Aquarium without an event like this. It was wonderful to see.”
Aquarium staff are currently working on ideas to maintain the connection with the families who attended the event, as well as continuing to grow the Aquarium’s community outreach efforts throughout the year.