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theme construction

The Aquarium at the Boardwalk opened to the public in November of 2020. The facility encompasses ten theme exhibit zones within the building footprint, a gift shop, and back of house. Over 400,000 gallons of marine environments ranging from coral reefs to shipwrecks are ready for exploration. Each exhibit provides interesting and engaging views of the underwater world. Designed by St. Louis-based PGAV, the Aquarium at the Boardwalk has quickly become a must-see attraction in Branson, MO.

Theme Exhibit Highlights

The new aquarium is home to octopi, sharks, eels, seahorses, stingrays, spider crabs, lionfish, and many other marine animals. The exhibit tanks vary in size and deliver multiple theme experiences both within the tank and in the public spaces. The main coral reef tank includes a 40’ long underwater view tunnel with reefs to each side. As sharks swim beside and overhead, patrons view a large, sculpted octopus ruin that is integrated within the coral reef. This tunnel leads you to the Mermaid Palace, where a triton photo opportunity awaits. Meticulously sculpted mermaids in a patina finish are found within the schooling tank.

While multiple aquarium vantage points are available at several exhibits for all visitors, children can interact in a very special way. Kid crawl areas allow children to access pop-up windows within the exhibits. These kid crawls provide an even more immersive experience for small children.

The large sand beach theme touch tank allows patrons to engage with crabs, cownose rays, and sharks while learning about their specific behaviors. A tide pool rounds out the exhibit experience before entering the Treasure Trove gift shop.

COST was contracted by Crossland Construction to provide shop drawings, structural engineering, and a physical massing model. Samples were also part of the submittal process. COST’s fabrication and theme exhibit construction scope included wet and dry rockwork, coral substrate (and installation of highly detailed artificial coral), and simulated wood and steel boat facades. Sculptures of an octopus theme ruin, triton photo opportunity, mermaids, and seahorse sculptures were fabricated in COST’s plant and then installed at the aquarium. Theme materials and applications used included shotcrete/concrete, FRP, urethanes, and stone face plaster.

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