The Belle Isle Aquarium is a treasure trove of natural and cultural wonder that serves Detroiters with access to rich programming and cultural gems. Where else in Detroit (or in the world?!) can you explore the marvels of marine life housed in a facility known for its world-class Albert Kahn architecture? This is truly the coolest free place on Earth. Your support keeps it that way.

Not being able to welcome the community into the Aquarium these days not only means that we miss creating memories with you, but that some critical resources have come to a halt. Aquarium operations rely heavily on donor support and are sustained in part by donations from weekend visitors, revenue from private facility rentals, tank sponsorships and interpretive programs like field trips and tours.

Each month that the Aquarium is not open, we expect a $15,000 gap to emerge. Please consider a donation today, that will help to lessen the impact of this loss. 

Why should you give? Without your support, the Aquarium is a community strong asset left vulnerable to an uncertain future. These are dollars that not only feed the fish but provide life-sustaining care to the animals, repair the historic infrastructure of the building, maintain the exhibits, and meets numerous other operational needs. The generous support of the community that we serve is what truly gets the work done.

We are calling on you to help to keep things flowing. We need your momentum now more than ever to tip the scales of resources in favor of the Aquarium's future. 

Thanks to a challenge grant from the William Davidson Foundation, every dollar raised will be matched one-for-one during this campaign, doubling the impact of your donation.

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Take a virtual field trip at the Belle Isle Aquarium!

Join our Education Team as they guide you through a field trip at the Belle Isle Aquarium. You will discover the food chains that lie in our tanks and the role of decomposers in the Belle Isle ecosystem. Make sure you download the worksheet so you can follow along!

Part 1                                                           Part 2

Looking for more fun stay-at-home activities?

About the Belle Isle Aquarium


Designed by Albert Kahn, the Belle Isle Aquarium has a Beaux Art style entrance that is decorated with an ornate arch incorporating two spitting dolphins and the emblem of Detroit. The Aquarium's interior features rare, green opaline glass tiles lining its vaulted ceiling. Kahn’s original design was to display the fish like art hanging on the wall in a gallery. In 1954, the aquarium underwent major renovations including structural repairs and updates in lighting and water filtration systems. The original wood and glue tanks were replaced with concrete tanks and three-floor pool exhibits were removed. 


When the Belle Isle Aquarium opened it was the third-largest Aquarium in the world with salt water being shipped directly in from the ocean. Today, it is home to a unique collection of fish. With one of the largest collections of air-breathing fish in the world, they house the only known collection of all 7 species of gar in North America. Walking through the aquarium, you will travel all over the globe exploring the Great Lakes and Waters of the world. From Africa to South American from rocky shores to sandy depths all different environments are on display.


The Belle Isle Aquarium was designed by famed Detroit architect, Albert Kahn, and opened on August 18, 1904. It is the oldest aquarium in the country and has served the Detroit community as a beloved attraction for generations. In 2005, the city of Detroit announced that the Aquarium was to be closed due to lean economic times for the city. The building remained closed to the public until the Belle Isle Conservancy reopened it on September 15, 2012. Since then, "momentum" has truly been the best term for what is happening in this historic building! A work-in-progress, the aquarium continues to grow and flourish as new exhibits and fish are added, tanks are restored, and history is preserved for generations to come.