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Science / Space

Florida Aquarium Gets $1 Million from Publix Benefactor

Carol &amp.jpg; Barney Barnett Learning Center 2-1.jpg
The entry and overhead graphic of the new state- of- the- art Carol and Barney Barnett Learning Center and proposed elements for the interior design and concepts on future and technology pieces

Carol and Barney Barnett - members of the family that founded the Publix Supermarket chain - have donated $1 million for series of new classrooms at the Florida Aquarium.

It will be called the Carol and Barney Barnett Learning Center—part of the Aquarium’s "Rising Tides Campaign," which aims to raise $15 million in donations.

The new center will include five themed classrooms with integrated technology and live animal habitats, all centered around a common stage with an additional area for group activities.  A dedicated animal holding area supports the animals within the classroom habitats as well as the animals for outreach programs. 

“This gift from Carol and Barney Barnett marks a monumental step for our continued growth,” said Thom Stork, the Aquarium’s President and CEO. “One of the Aquarium’s key focus areas is growing our educational presence in the community and providing a comprehensive, highly integrated resource for people of all ages to learn about our oceans and how to protect them. Their generous contribution will benefit our community for generations to come.”

Also, Tom Hall, the aquarium's Foundation chairman,  announced an additional $1 million donation from an anonymous donor in honor of the Barnett’s gift. The donor  increased their donation from $500,000 to $1 million.

“These anonymous donations showcase the spirit and importance of this campaign which inspires people to come together for  the betterment of this community said Tom Hall, The Florida Aquarium Foundation Chairman. “ The Rising Tides Campaign is so much more than an expansion effort; it’s a commitment to the community to provide the best education and marine science research available and ensure ocean conservation for generations to come.”

The Aquarium’s Rising Tides capital campaign’s expansion plans include 35,000-sq-ft of new space and 10,000-square-feet of renovated space including the lobby and main entrance. In addition to the Carol and Barney Barnett Learning Center and the Mosaic Center conference/event space, the Campaign will include new traveling exhibit space to showcase aquatic ecosystems and marine animals from around the world.

Groundbreaking for the Aquarium expansion is slated for September 2012 with sequenced and consecutive construction projects to be underway for four years. Construction is slated for completion in the fall of 2016.