Budget includes boost for exhibits

$31 million in funding for science center, aquarium proposed

January 29, 2000|By Gady A. Epstein | Gady A. Epstein,SUN STAFF

The Maryland Science Center and the National Aquarium in Baltimore could be among the beneficiaries of Maryland's outsized budget this year, with millions proposed in the governor's budget to expand exhibit offerings and renovate their buildings.

Gov. Parris N. Glendening plans $31 million in funding for the two attractions over the next five years, beginning in the next fiscal year with $4 million for the science center and $3 million for the aquarium.

The money would help the science center with renovations, construction of a new wing and the addition of new exhibits.

"We're on a multiyear effort to remake the Maryland Science Center," said Gregory P. Andorfer, executive director of the center. The center could receive $16 million over four years.

The planned additions include a human body exhibit, new play areas for the children's room and a dinosaur hall.

"It's going to be unlike any dinosaur hall in the country," Andorfer said. "It's not going to just be dead skeletons, but things like a dino-mountain that you can climb up on. You can sit in a dinosaur nest and be a dinosaur for a day."

$65 million in improvements

The aquarium plans to use the funds to help it launch roughly $65 million in improvements, including an expansion in front of the Pier 3 building that will feature a new gallery for changing exhibits. The aquarium plans to break ground on that expansion in 2001, its 20th anniversary year.

"We're thrilled to get the support," said Jill Galloway, spokeswoman for the aquarium, which could receive as much as $15 million over five years from the state. "Part of what we try to do every year is offer something new to visitors."

The aquarium's plans also include building an Animal Care and Research Center, for veterinary care, fish breeding and research.

The state funding is part of the governor's $1.26 billion capital budget that includes more than $240 million for public schools, colleges, water quality improvements and an assortment of economic development projects in Baltimore.

Glendening had more money than ever to spread around this year because the state has a more than $1 billion operating surplus. His proposed capital budget uses nearly $500 million from the state's general fund.

Zoo could get $19 million

The governor's budget director, Fred Puddester, said another city attraction, the Baltimore Zoo, could receive as much as $19 million through 2005 from the state for improvements -- though none of it is in this year's proposed capital budget.

The General Assembly has yet to take up the proposed capital budget. Legislators can cut from the budget but not add to it.

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