Monterey Bay Aquarium: A Memorable Event Venue Supporting a Good Cause
Hosting an event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium is a way to provide an unforgettable experience. Giving attendees the opportunity to see the exhibits after-hours or even dine in the midst of jellyfish, sharks or silvery sardines will ensure they remember your event for years afterwards.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium has been operating since 1984, and is host to 200 galleries and exhibits representing more than 550 species of fishes, invertebrates, mammals, reptiles, birds and plants. In 2017, 1.9 million people visited the aquarium.
The Aquarium’s mission is to inspire conservation of the ocean. It would be difficult not to be inspired when one is surrounded by exhibits featuring kelp forests, sea turtles, octopuses, crabs and many, many diverse types of fish. The experience isn’t just limited to the indoors: the aquarium’s deck wraps around the outside of the property, right on the bay. Guests may spy otters, dolphins, seals or even whales.
“The ocean literally flows through the walls of the Aquarium and its exhibits can make you feel like you’re diving in the Bay,” said John Abrahamson, director of event sales and food services at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “Event guests get a once in a lifetime experience, and the local and sustainable cuisine just adds to it.”
During most of the year, events can be held starting at 6:00 p.m. In the summertime, the earliest start time is 7:00 p.m. to allow ample time for turnaround after public visiting hours have ended.
Groups have a number of options for rental and event set-up:
- The Open Sea Wing – 126 seated, 300 strolling
- The Ocean’s Edge Wing – 500 strolling
- Kelp Forest – 70 seated
- Marine Mammal Gallery – 200 seated
- Auditorium – 220
- Restaurant and Café – 45 seated, 75 strolling
- Bing Boardroom – 15-100 seated
Planners looking to host 400 – 2,500 attendees can opt to buy out the entire aquarium to experience all the exhibits. For groups being bussed in, there is a convenient bus turnaround/drop-off point located directly outside. There is also a small parking deck above the facility.
The building is structured in such a way that groups using a single wing will not even be aware of the other. There are separate entrances and the walkways that connect the two wings are cleverly masked to provide a clear demarcation of space.
From round tables for plated dinners to cocktail rounds and food stations, any number of set up options can be arranged for events. Special touches such as illuminated tables and chairs can be organized, as well as video, graphics and logo projections. There are of course some restrictions, to ensure the health, safety and comfort of the marine creatures to which the aquarium is home.
Even more memorable experiences can be created with add-ons such as dive shows, educational lectures, and feeding opportunities as well as music and dancing. Behind-the-scenes tours can also be organized for groups of 20 or fewer guests. And there is a small tank where companies can have some logo’d items sunk as an added visual surprise for attendees.
When it comes to event catering, sustainability remains in the forefront. Executive Chef Matthew Beaudin creates farm-to-table cuisine for the aquarium’s restaurant, which looks out onto the bay. Menus feature sustainable and organic items from producers in the Monterey Bay region and Central California. Tastings and opportunities for chef lectures can also be arranged.
The organization works with local suppliers and caterers who are committed to sustainable practices, only serving fish caught or farmed sustainably. To ensure minimal waste, no plastic bottles or straws are used throughout the property.
The aquarium’s book store can be kept open for events with a minimum purchase guarantee, allowing attendees to browse and shop at their convenience. Planners may also opt to pre-purchase souvenirs or gift bags, giving attendees the ability to take home some physical representations of memories from the event.
The non-profit Monterey Bay Aquarium is the perfect event venue for corporations that care about sustainability and ocean health.
“It’s not really hyperbole to say holding an event here can help save the world,” said Abrahamson. “The money spent on the event supports our worldwide education, research and conservation efforts – which means an event at the Aquarium is itself a CSR.”
For more information on hosting an event at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, go HERE.