BayEcotarium CEO George Jacob unveils climate museum master plan

Ritu Jha-

George Jacob CEO BayEcotarium[Above left] unveiled the climate museum masterplan on World UN Day.

On October 24, World UN Day, the Smithsonian-affiliated Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco celebrated its annual Blue Marble benefit held in San Jose, California. It was attended by climate advocates, innovators, CEOs, entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, elected officials, Grammy- and other awarded artists.

It was at this event that George Jacob, president and CEO of BayEcotarium, unveiled a master plan to transform the Aquarium of the Bay into the world’s first comprehensive climate literacy and ocean conservation living museum. “It is one of my much-awaited dream projects,” he told indica.

At a star-studded blue marble blue carpet reception, Jacob revealed a scale model of the biomimetic iridescent cluster of parabolic buildings inspired by Ohlone native American shell mounds and fish scales.

He told indica that the event received a full endorsement from Mayor Sam Liccardo and the City Council. It also honored community and corporate leaders committed to sustainability and climate change mitigation. “That’s what defines success for our environmental non-profit celebrating its 41st anniversary. The aquarium is one of our seven branches.”

The BayEcotarium, (or is a merger between The Bay Institute (established in 1984) and the Aquarium of the Bay (established in 1996) in 2009. It comprises the Aquarium of the Bay, the Sea Lion Center, the Bay Institute, Studio Aqua, the Bay Model Alliance and the Bay Academy, all focusing on different aspects of San Francisco Bay and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta conservation.

Jacob did not reveal the amount raised at the benefit but said the pledges and proceeds will go towards supporting the organization in its mission.

He joined as CEO in 2017, and has been working to raise funds to build the Climate and Ocean Conservation Living Museum in San Francisco, which was earlier attended by First Lady Jill Biden in 2018.

Jacob said, “We suffered a two-year set back due to the pandemic as with every museum and attraction in the Bay Area, and have now revived the BayEcotarium initiative with renewed resolve and rigor.” He said the $260 million project may not be affected by inflation as “contingencies are factored in the flexible organic design.”

He said the proposed living museum with satellite facilities across the Bay Area could have a $2 billion positive economic impact in the hospitality sector currently reeling under the aftermath of a prolonged Covid shutdown.

During the benefit, San Jose mayor Sam Liccardo presented Jacob with a proclamation in full support of the BayEcotarium citing that the first step to mitigation is education. “Awareness leads to informed and sustained action,” Jacob said.

This sentiment was echoed by two-time world champion and former SF Giants superstar Hunter Pence, a keynote speaker at the benefit.

Another keynote George Kurian, CEO, NetApp, spoke on ‘Building a sustainable world our collective responsibility’.

“The significance of the $260 million Climate and Sustainability literacy museum currently being designed in San Francisco with a global reach, to generate awareness leading to informed action transcending geo-political boundaries, cannot be underestimated,” Kurian said.

During the benefit, the Aquarium of the Bay also announced two winners of the Sylvia Earle Academic or SEA Scholarship. Named for the famed National Geographic explorer in residence, the SEA Scholarship is awarded to students pursuing a career in marine biology, conservation, sustainability, or other related fields.

One of the recipients was Keenan Guillas, a graduate student at San Jose State University’s Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. The other recipient is Vasiliki Balafa, a postgraduate of the Natural Hazards and Disaster Mitigation program at the University of the Aegean, Greece.

Grammy winners Ricky Kej and Lonnie Park wowed the guests with songs dedicated to the ocean and climate at a dazzling ceremony that had the crowd clapping and swaying to an inspired musical pledge to protect the Blue Marble – our Earth.

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