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Norfolk’s Nauticus is getting a makeover as it nears $21.5 million fundraising goal

Norfolk’s Nauticus is getting a makeover as it nears $21.5 million fundraising goal

By Sandra J. Pennecke
Inside Business
Feb 14, 2023 at 1:14 pm

NORFOLK — Nauticus is getting a makeover — the first significant investment in its exhibits and educational programming since it opened in 1994.

The maritime-themed science center and museum on Waterside Drive in downtown Norfolk began its Reimagine Nauticus campaign in January 2020 with a $21.5 million capital fundraising goal to finance its redesign. With close to 80% of its goal met, the campaign is now in its public phase.

Stephen Kirkland, Nauticus president and CEO, said in a news release that the transformation will include the entire exhibit space and visitor areas.

“We’re developing an interactive maritime discovery center like no other,” Kirkland said.

The Ohio-based exhibit design firm, Roto, will work in conjunction with Nauticus leadership to create five large-scale, interactive exhibit gallery spaces on the center’s third floor.

The project will include a newly designed lobby with refreshed lighting and open spaces dubbed Wonderhall. It will also feature its newly created “STEM to STERN” programming with a wider understanding of maritime-related businesses and industry.

Construction started on the first phase in November. Two new interactive galleries, “Norfolk in Time” and “Aquaticus,” will open this summer.

The second phase will begin early next year with exhibits entitled “Modern Naval Power,” “Water Port” and “Design. Build. Sail.”

Nauticus aims to complete the entire project by the end of 2024. The center will continue to be open throughout the renovations.

For more information, visit

Sandra J. Pennecke, 757-652-5836, [email protected]

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