50th Anniversary of the Mystic Aquarium

2023 has been a very big year for Mystic! First, our sensational town was named the Fourth Best Travel Destination by USA Today! This year we are also celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the Mystic Aquarium! There will be a huge celebration to honor the anniversary in October! Keep reading to learn more about the aquarium and what it stands for, and all the details about the 50th anniversary celebration!

History of the Aquarium

The Mystic Aquarium, then owned by Kelvin Smith, first opened in 1973. He chose Mystic as the location because of its scenic coastal location and rich maritime history. It was to serve as a living laboratory and major public exhibit, highlighting some of the most intriguing species in the world. In 1975, beluga whales first arrived at the aquarium, and in 1976, Seal Island opened. In 1979, the aquarium became part of the Sea Research Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to aquatic education and research. In 1989, the penguin exhibit opened and in 1996, the Seal Rescue clinic was built as a rehabilitation center for seals before they are released back into the wild. In 1997, The Mystic Marinelife Aquarium became Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, after teaming up with explorer and oceanographer Dr. Robert Ballard, to share with the world the wonders of the deep ocean. In 1999, the aquarium underwent a huge renovation, which included adding the Arctic Coast exhibit, one of the largest beluga exhibits in the nation. In 2001, the California Sea Lion show was added. In 2012, the aquarium marked the centennial of the maiden voyage and tragic loss of the RMS Titanic with the opening of Titanic – 12,450 Feet below. The Titanic exhibit has since been remodeled into multiple exhibits, including Exploration: Wild, Jurassic Giants, and the current exhibit, Dino Seas: An Immersive Journey. Today, the aquarium is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a mission to inspire people to care for and protect our oceans!

50th Anniversary Celebration

The Mystic Aquarium officially turns 50 in October, and we are going to celebrate in a big way! Saturday, October 14th is the Mystic Aquarium Celebration and Fireworks show! The fun begins at 1pm at Mystic River Park where community leaders and special guests will be gathering for a presentation to celebrate the 50th anniversary. At 2pm, head over to Cottrell Street for Chili Fest, a beer garden and live music! There will be many popular local restaurants participating in the festival, including Chapter One, Bank & Bridge, Rocks 21, and many more. From 2-4:30, 60s Explosion Band will perform and from 5-7:30 local favorite Wicked Peach will be performing! The night will end with an epic Fireworks show at the Mystic Seaport, sponsored by Foxwoods Resort and Casino. Commemorate this historic event from the river’s edge at the museum! Bring a chair and set up along the waterfront to get a perfect view! Before the show, hang out on Seaport grounds, play lawn games on the village green, grab a drink at Schaefer’s Spouter Tavern, and enjoy a musical performance by Wooly Mammoth.

To say we are excited about the anniversary is an understatement! The Mystic Aquarium is a fascinating experience for all who visit. What do you love most about the Mystic Aquarium??