Twenty years? Has the DWA really been open that long? Yes, the facility opened to the public on October 26, 1992. I’m not sure if time goes faster when you are having fun or when you are working hard. Perhaps the hard work leads to the fun of seeing the completion of a dream, or at least a step toward that vision.
Looking back, I realize that obtaining the marine species for the future exhibits, was probably the easiest process of the endeavor. Learning about permits, demolition, architecture, plumbing, electrical and so many areas totally new to me, were all prerequisite steps in building an aquarium.
In 1924, a brick building was erected on the parcel of land at 1801 N. Griffin St. Until 1982, the building served as warehouse space and housed various industries. It remained vacant until August 1991 when the dilapidated structure was purchased as the future site of the DWA.
Soon realizing that if we were actually going to open in 1992, there would be no time to waste. The interior was demolished, with only the brick walls and support structure remaining. Plans for the 8,000 square-foot first floor included a 22,000-gallon walk-through tunnel (Continental Shelf), an indoor area to be home to Black-footed penguins and ten 2,000-gallon saltwater exhibits.
Poster-size invitations to a sneak preview to be held on October 24th had been sent to 2,000 VIPs. Along with the exhibits, they also sampled culinary delicacies provided by Daryl’s by Design. From designing and approving artwork for the poster invitation, to literally filling exhibits with water as guests were entering, the entire process of opening the DWA in 14 months was amazing.
The articles in this newsletter are mainly about the initial aquarium and its opening in 1992. Oldies But Goodies includes some of the signature species exhibited at the original open house that are still part of the existing collection. A Fish Called Wanda discusses the DWA logo that was designed prior to the opening. With the exception of the Black-footed penguins (birds), all other specimens were fish or invertebrates. For those of you not familiar with the original DWA, we are including excerpts taken from original newsletters about initial collecting Up Close and Personal and briefly addressing my interest in and fascination for sea life in Time Changes Things. Book of the Month, a book for kids, gives a glimpse into the variety of appearances, behaviors and diets of sea creatures.
It is good to reminisce about the history of the DWA, as it continues to evolve. Although the name is less fitting than in 1992, the facility is ever changing. In our next newsletter we will tell you some of our plans for 2013.
The following is taken From the Director article after the first year of operation and with only a slight change, still aptly expresses my gratitude.
“The Dallas World Aquarium is getting better each day. I again say thank you to all members, staff, vendors, bankers, friends and family. It is certainly a good feeling to have the first year twenty years behind me with so many exciting ones ahead!”