In October 2017, the newly expanded and remodeled Wonders of Wildlife Museum reopened to the public. The facility was recently recognized as the Best New Attraction in the USA Today 2017 poll. The enlarged 340,000 square foot living museum includes both dioramas and a live collection of over 35,000 animals from around the world. The aquarium has over 1.5 million gallons of fresh and salt water exhibits, making it one of the larger aquariums in the U.S.
COST was heavily involved with both aquatic and dry exhibit fabrication. Our scope began by closely collaborating with the project team on shop drawings and exhibit modeling. Once approved, many of the aquarium decorative enhancements and backdrops were shop fabricated for easy, on-site installation. These backdrops resembled old ship wrecks with coral growth, complete with piping, gauges, crates, and other strewn remnants. The tanks showcase spiny lobsters, groupers, barracudas, and moray eels.
Site-constructed exhibit areas, such as the alligator swamp, included a cypress tree forest with fabricated trees reaching over 45 feet tall. The new beaver exhibit, river monster tank, trout aquarium, and crappie exhibit all contain decorative enhancements that replicate the species’ typical underwater environments.
The new Penguin Cove habitat, opened on December 15th, resembles an Antarctic Coastline with snowcapped simulated rockwork. The chilled 43-degree water is perfect for the eleven resident Gentoo Penguins. The exhibit contains “pop-up” acrylic windows within the habitat area for a close-up views. A Polar Plunge dive tube allows penguins to swim from the second floor exhibit to the first floor Deep Ocean tank. The Deep Ocean is visible from the lobby and Fish Tales Cafe.
The project involved several COST departments including the GFRC, FRP, epoxy, secondary steel, and paint shops.
You can learn more about the Wonders of Wildlife National Museum and Aquarium at wondersofwildlife.org. Other photographs of completed exhibit fabrication work can be found at www.costofwisconsin.com/aquariums/.