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Climate Change

Published on: Oct. 9, 2023, 10:41 a.m.
A first-of-its-kind museum
  • Jacob at the climate aquarium: 'we will do our best'

By Ritwik Sinha. Consulting Editor, Business India

The coastal state of Odisha is all set to become the first state in the country which will have a defining new age climate museum. Such museums are fast becoming popular in the developed countries and they are evolving as the centres of learning and raising awareness for the visitors on the critical issue of climate change and its implications. To set up a unit in Odisha, the state government is likely to engage San Francisco-based Bay Ecotarium, which is in advanced stages of setting up the world’s biggest climate museum. They are also dubbed as climate aquarium or oceanarium and the iconic unit, which is coming up at San Francisco, is being set up at an investment of a staggering $260 million, with support coming from the noted philanthropy trusts.           

“It’s not only San Francisco… we are simultaneously working on similar projects in other countries also,” says George Jacob, president & CEO, Bay Ecotarium. “In India, Odisha government has shown strong intent to set up a climate museum – somewhat on the similar lines as the iconic unit we are setting up in San Francisco. In the next couple of months, I will be travelling to Odisha to finalise the deal”. Jacob, an Indian-American, who is considered a veteran in international museum sector, has over 100 museum design assignments across the world to his credit. Bay Ecotarium is considered the most prestigious project of his illustrious career, as it will be first of its kind to provide climate literacy and ocean conservation in a living museum in the world. 

As per a formal note from the Ecotarium, the three-acre public green eco-park will be dedicated to the mission of conserving, preserving, and saving the Bay. “The highly visible generational non-profit initiative will transform San Francisco into a destination of climate resilience and a beacon of environmental movement worldwide,” Jacob adds. He and his team are also pursuing similar projects in other countries, such as Norway, Jamaica, Greece and Scotland.

Iconic project

In India, Odisha will be the debut point for the new age climate museum -- a proposition which reached a matured stage, when a high-level official delegation visited the aquarium in San Francisco. The delegation comprised the Chief Secretary which received a firsthand experience on 25 July 2023 of the Bay which has set in motion the idea to establish the first Climate and Ocean Conservation Living Museum in the country. 

Bay Ecotarium has already submitted a letter of intent (LoI) to assist the state in setting up the unique living oceanarium. And Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has also enthusiastically informed his followers through his official social media accounts about this iconic project, which will soon take off. 

  • Inside view of an aquarium

    Inside view of an aquarium

“I expect everything to be finalised soon and probably we would commence the project in the next few months,” Jacob emphasises. “For further details you will have to wait, but one thing I can tell you is: it would be first of its kind museum in India and we will do our best to set up a unique asset”. He, however, refused to comment on the scale and possible investment which would be needed for the Odisha project. 

Jacob had spent a substantial part of his formative years in India, where he had learnt the basic nuances of museum design and management. He was the first administrator of the BM Birla Science & Technology Center and Planetarium complex in Jaipur.  He is currently also on the Boards of International Council of Museums US and the US Travel Association.

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