Marine Science Center debuts new exhibit space at Flagship Landing

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. – The Port Townsend Marine Science Center gave a sneak peak at Phase 1 of a new exhibit space and store in downtown Port Townsend on March 2. The exhibit and store will open to the public on March 4.

In August 2021, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center made a big announcement: The non-profit purchased the Flagship Landing Building at 1001 Water Street. The acquisition was the result of the organization’s in-depth search for a new facility that will eventually house its aquarium, exhibits, store, labs and offices.

Phase 1 serves as an introduction to the Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s programs including community citizen science, life-long education programs and exhibits, and a store for unique marine-friendly products. The organization is also celebrating its 40th anniversary in 2022.

“What better way to celebrate 40 rides around the sun for this collaborative community committed to inspiring conservation of the Salish Sea,” said Janine Boire, PTMSC executive director. “One of our primary goals with the Phase 1 space is to share our vision and invite people to visit our aquarium and museum spaces at Fort Worden.”

Fort Worden State Park has been the home of the marine science center since 1982, when founders Libby Palmer and Judy D’Amore marshaled support to build an aquarium exhibit in the wooden building on the pier on Battery Way.

Ellen Hargis, the PTMSC board president, spoke to the future vision for the organization. She emphasized that the non-profit organization is not leaving Fort Worden.

“The aquarium will continue to operate until the pier is removed by Washington State Parks in the coming years,” Hargis said. “And the museum building will eventually become an environmental field station and lifelong learning center.” Another space in the back of the Flagship building has already hosted a traveling photographic exhibit that opened in mid-December: “We Are Puget Sound.”

Hargis said that Phase 2 of the building’s renovation will begin in the coming years following an extensive planning and permitting process that includes working with current tenants, as well as conducting a capital campaign. Retrofitting for seismic preparedness and measures to mitigate the effects of sea level rise and weather extremes are also being planned. The entire project is expected to span 5 years.

Port Townsend City Manager John Mauro and Jefferson County Commissioner Kate Dean reflected on the PTMSC’s history, expressed enthusiasm about the organization’s growing influence and stature in the environmental community and praised its positive contributions to the city and county.

Beginning March 4, the new facility will be open to the public Friday through Sunday, 11 am to 5 pm Plans are underway to open six days a week beginning in May. For the latest information, visit ptmsc.org/left-menu/visit-us.

About the Port Townsend Marine Science Center

Founded in 1982, the Port Townsend Marine Science Center is a non-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization whose mission is to inspire conservation of the Salish Sea. The PTMSC provides place-based, people powered, hands-on learning for all ages including exhibits, school classes, youth camps, citizen science programs and a lecture series. The PTMSC offers two public facilities at Fort Worden State Park – the Aquarium (on the pier) and the Museum (on shore) – and a mini-visitor center in downtown Port Townsend. For more information, visit www.ptmsc.org.