Although the Great Lakes Aquarium is a relatively new attraction in Duluth, Minnesota, it is one of the most engaging and popular attractions within the city. In early 2000, Julia and Caroline Marshall donated land to create an aquarium within Duluth. With the combination of the Marshall’s land donation, as well as state and local funds, the Great Lakes Aquarium opened in the middle of summer 2000.
Although the Great Lakes Aquarium opened in 2000, a good chunk of anticipated revenue was lost within the first year because of delays in construction. In order to ensure the Great Lakes Aquarium would succeed for many years to come, Mayor Gary Doty created a specialized task force to oversee the Aquarium in 2002. That same year, the City of Duluth eliminated the task force, took control of the Great Lakes Aquarium, and even closed it for a short period of time.
One year later, Ripley’s Entertainment took control of the Great Lakes Aquarium and brought success to the Aquarium. Under the direction of Ripley’s Entertainment, the Great Lakes Aquarium significantly cut costs through practices, such as keeping only 1/3 of the Aquarium’s original staff.
Although Ripley’s Entertainment initially brought success to the Great Lakes Aquarium, the Aquarium experienced an attendance conflict in 2007. This led to Ripley’s Entertainment resigning its direction of the Great Lakes Aquarium. Instead of the City of Duluth taking over again, a board of directors was established and hired Jack LaVoy as the Aquarium’s executive director. Since then, LaVoy and the board of directors have brought continuous improvement and success to the Great Lakes Aquarium.
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