Maui Ocean Center Breaks Ground on New Whale Exhibit

A rendering of the Maui Ocean Center’s new dome theater. // Photo by Evan Pascual/Maui Ocean Center

The Maui Ocean Center in Hawaii held a groundbreaking blessing for the construction of a new whale exhibit that includes a specialized dome theater. 

Utilizing dual laser projection technology, the dome theater will enable visitors to dive among humpback whales in an immersive, virtual experience. The monolithic dome theater will be the first of its kind in Hawaii, according to a Maui Ocean Center news release. Maui Ocean Center anticipates having the exhibit completed by the summer of 2018.

Chris Masterson, Maui Ocean Center's exhibit designer, and James Carpio, the facility's construction project manager, were tasked to create an experience too large for an aquarium tank. 


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The new whale exhibit will celebrate the humpbacks whales of Hawaii by bringing these animals to Maui Ocean Center through visual and audio technology. The exhibit space will focus on the whales’ nomadic lifestyle, their behaviors at any given point of their migration, the different roles they engage in, and the migration routes taken globally, regionally, and within Hawaii.  

Created in part with local Maui artisans and marine specialists, the facility will feature an exhibit hall with interactive learning stations and previously unseen footage of local humpbacks. The high point of the exhibit will be an immersive, 3D short-film enabling viewers to dive with the humpbacks of Maui Nui inside a new 139-seat dome theater.

Humpback whales will come to life through the combination of active 3D glasses and 4K high definition imagery produced by multiple laser projectors. The 7.1 surround audio system utilizes an advanced, LEED-certified acoustical system that is made of 100 percent recycled cotton and employed by the likes of NASA and the U.S. Navy.


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