Gdynia Aquarium has been operating in Gdynia since 1971. For more than 30 years, it was called the Oceanographic Museum and Marine Aquarium of the Sea Fisheries Institute in Gdynia. Because the name was too long and became inadequate to the function of this place, the decision was made to change it to the Gdynia Aquarium. However, it is worth remembering the history of the institution that is inherent in the history of the Marine Institute of Fisheries – State Research Institute, which dates back to June 18, 1921.
Then, in Hel, the Marine Fisheries Laboratory was established. Its staff, including the adjunct professor Kazimierz Demel, began collecting natural specimens, which since 1924 was presented in MLR showcases and aquariums. At the end of the 20s of the last century, the collection counted a few hundred animal specimens and were presented at various exhibitions, eg in 1929 at the National Exhibition in Poznan. In the 1930s the collections were exhibited in the so-called “Baltic Museum”, which was one of the tourist attractions of Hel.
In 1932, the Marine Fisheries Laboratory was renamed to the “Marine Station”, which at the turn of 1938/1939 was transferred to Gdynia to a newly built building on today’s avenue of Jan Paweł II 1. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of World War II, the part designed for the museum and aquarium has not been finished. In the post-war period there were three small museum rooms and one aquarium in the Institute building. Another change came in 1949, when the Marine Station was renamed to the “Marine Fisheries Institute”.
The rebuilding and the creation of the appropriate oceanographic museum was resumed in the late 1950s when the first technical projects were set up. But the proper construction and installation of aquariums began in 1969. The engineer responsible for that construction was Jan Banaszak, who was then the head of the Investment Department.
In 1971, as part of the 50th anniversary of the Institute, the Oceanographic Museum and Marine Aquarium were opened. The launch of the museum was made possible thanks to the great work of the managers of the institution: Stanisław Kujawa and his successor – Dr. Kazimierz Siudziński. 34 aquariums presented animals and plants, both marine and freshwater. Museum specimens have been collected by the Institute’s employees since 1921 and donated by captains and sailors of the Polish merchant and fishing fleet. Some of the wall expositions from that period can be viewed until this day. The map of the bottom of the Baltic Sea at the central part of the Baltic Sea Room, also remembers the beginnings of the “Museum”.
Further changes came in 2003, when the glass rotunda of the building was renewed and the first floor was now presenting a rich exposition of coral reef animals. Also this year, the name of the facility was changed to the Gdynia Aquarium. Two years later, two big snakes came to the Aquarium – the green anacondas. There was also a new aquarium exhibition – “At the border of Water and Land”. Along with the modernization of the exhibition, the aquarium education was developed. The Cinema and Conference Room, laboratories equipped with microscopes and computer equipment were established. In 2007. The Education Center has also prepared the Preschool Room full of marine toys, which are dedicated to the youngest. The Gdynia Aquarium is still modernized, enriched with new specimens, popular science events and certainly will surprise its quests many times more.