National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center

Project Lead

Through an innovative partnership between Federal agencies and local government, the City of Santa Cruz and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary collaborated to build this exciting facility. The City of Santa Cruz donated the land for the Exploration Center. Funding for building and exhibit construction was provided by grants from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, and from two 2006 Clean Water Bond Act grants from the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation and the California State Coastal Conservancy. This collaborative effort provided a new center that complements existing regional cultural and educational facilities, enhances the visitor experience to California’s Central Coast, and educates the public to the importance of the Marine Sanctuary and its influence on the surrounding areas.

SEC life in the kelp forest.650

Located across the street from the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf and one block from Santa Cruz’s historic Beach and Boardwalk area, the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center provides the Marine Sanctuary Program and the State of California with an interactive marine education facility just steps from the Pacific Ocean. The Exploration Center provides:

  • A unique, hands-on introduction to the diverse ecosystems of California’s Central Coast.
  • Greatly needed educational facilities for Sanctuary users, visitors, educators, and residents, including minority and low income populations.
  • Furthers the mission of the Marine Sanctuary Program by encouraging stewardship of the watershed, shoreline, and sea.

The architecturally distinct building overlooking the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the Santa Cruz Municipal Wharf was designed to provide a sustainable home for the Exploration Center and received Gold LEED certification.

The Exploration Center includes:

  • Dynamic interactive exhibitry highlighting the Monterey Bay Sanctuary’s natural resources and stressing ocean stewardship and conservation.
  • Multimedia displays including video of deep-water ocean environments.
  • Educational classroom and lab facilities.
  • Administrative offices.
  • Public art focused on ocean wildlife.
  • Bicycle facilities and pedestrian connections to the City’s Depot Park.

Tannery Arts Center

The Tannery Arts Center campus is a testament to the importance of art and our view of the pivotal role culture plays in sustaining our community.

Upcoming Significant Downtown Projects

Stay up-to-date on significant development projects as they move from initial stages to construction.