Monterey Bay Aquarium History

In the early 1960s, scientists at Stanford University's Hopkins Marine Station grew wary of the growing industry on Cannery Row. The station succeeded in convincing the university of their concerns in 1967, and Stanford University purchased the property on Cannery Row that housed the Hovden Cannery, a sardine cannery on the border of Monterey and Pacific Grove. Hovden Cannery closed in 1973 when its parent company moved the plant, and Hopkins used the facility as a warehouse. In the late‑1970s, however, Chuck Baxter and Robin Burnett—both faculty members at Hopkins—along with Nancy Burnett, a graduate of Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, and Steve Webster, faculty at San Jose State University, thought of building an aquarium on the Hovden Cannery site. [d] Three separate proposals for an aquarium in Monterey County had already occurred in 1914, 1925, and 1944, but financial backing and public support for the idea was not sufficient. Nancy Burnett brought the group's interest to her parents, Lucile and David Packard (co‑founder of Hewlett-Packard), and their foundation commissioned a feasibility study. An aquarium was predicted to attract 300,000 paying visitors annually with a potential future increase to 500,000 so, in April 1978, the Packards created the Monterey Bay Aquarium Foundation, which purchased the Hovden property from Stanford for nearly US$1 million. Around this time, Julie Packard—also a daughter of David and Lucile—joined the planning group. David Packard funded construction with an initial donation of $7 million with the caveat that the private nonprofit would be financially self-supporting after it opened. [e][d] Due to an expansion of its planned exhibits—after visits to public aquariums in Japan—and the design and creation of exhibits in‑house, the Packards paid a final sum of $55 million. [f]

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