New Aquarium Tells Desert Story

Story by Tom Kleespie, Arizona Public Media
February 20, 2013

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is telling the aquatic story of the Sonoran Desert region with its newest exhibit, the Warden Aquarium.

The exhibit, which opened in January, created some unique challenges for the museum, says Executive Director Craig Ivanyi.

"Most aquariums are millions and millions of dollars, and they're much grander as far as the physical scale that they're looking at," Ivanyi said.

"We wanted to actually use part of a historical building that dates back to 1937, and so what we actually looked at is how can we do this in a space that makes a meaningful exhibit that embraces both the history of the building and allows us to step into present day as far as aquarium technology," he says.

Highlighting animals from the Colorado River watershed beside saltwater species has resulted in a rich visitor experience, says Stephane Poulin, operational chief curator at the museum.

"So far the reaction has been great," Poulin says. "A lot of people are ecstatic, surprised that all this stuff is right in the ecosystem that they live in."