June 5, 2018, MA‘ALAEA, MAUI, HI – In the early morning hours, a bright white sphere arose on the horizon in Ma’alaea, Hawai‘i. The balloon-like structure made of inflatable polyvinyl chloride (PVC) will soon house a 3D digital theater, the first of its kind in Hawai‘i. The monolithic concrete and PVC “Dome” is 56 feet in diameter, and it is one of several planned projects that exemplifies Maui Ocean Center’s commitment to expanding educational experiences for Hawai‘i residents and visitors alike.
“The motivation for us has always been to foster understanding, wonder, and respect for Hawai‘i’s marine life. The Humpbacks of Hawai‘i Exhibit Hall and 3D Dome Theater represent a next step for transporting guests to Hawai‘i’s magical underwater world. This new experience will be transformative and educational,” stated Chris Masterson, Maui Ocean Center’s Senior Exhibit Designer.
The 139-seat theater – along with a new 1200 square foot exhibit hall, will focus on the humpbacks’ nomadic lifestyle, their behavior at any given point of their migration, the different roles they engage in, and their migration routes taken globally, regionally, and within Hawaiian waters. “Creating a venue for people to encounter and connect with these magnificent creatures is a challenge, but we like those,” explained Masterson. “We have taken the historically impossible – namely building an exhibit too big for a tank, and combined groundbreaking technology with majestic cinematography to bring people face to face with nature’s awesome beauty and power.”
Construction continues now through the end of summer, with ongoing input and feedback from Maui’s cultural and scientific communities. “Maui is a very special place, with passionate people committed to the preservation and conservation of its unique natural and cultural resources,” said Maui Ocean Center’s General Manager, Tapani Vuori. “The Maui Ocean Center is proud to be a part of this community and sees this new exhibit and theater as a way to give back.” Plans for community-based events to support non-profits and scientific organizations have been included in the design and functionality of the new construction.
The theater will be Maui’s first planetarium – a perfect backdrop for celestial navigation workshops, as well as a place to show Science on a Sphere, an educational tool developed and maintained by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “Imagine a large spinning globe on which you can display active scientific data like climate change, ocean temperature, and atmospheric storms. You can even use it to learn about planets other than our own!” explained Vuori.
For updates on the Dome and the Humpbacks of Hawai‘i Exhibit, please visit MauiOceanCenter.com, Twitter.com/MauiOceanCenter, and Facebook.