The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) was founded in 1930. It is the country's largest higher education institution dedicated towards the study of marine life. The Ocean Science Exhibit Center at WHOI allows visitors to learn about the research conducted by the institution as well as the vessels and tools it uses to for underwater exploration and research. Exhibits include videos about the Institution, the discovery and exploration of the Titanic wreck, hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor, and whale, shark and dolphin research. During the summer, the museum offers walking tours of the campus grounds. It also offers lectures by Institution scientists in July and August.
The Woods Hole Oceanographic
Institution (WHOI) is on the cutting edge of oceanographic research. It utilizes the most advanced developments in
technology to get into the ocean and study marine life up close. According to its website, WHOI’s mission is
to advance “knowledge of the ocean and its connection with the Earth system
through a sustained commitment to excellence in science, engineering, and
education, and to the application of this knowledge to problems facing society.”
The Ocean Science Exhibit Center is located nearby in a white building that
looks like a former church. It is only a
short walk from the water. Visitors will
learn about the institution’s research history, as well as the tools and
vessels that were used. Many of the
tools, including the popular “SharkCam” were created by the engineers working
in Woods Hole.
There are short videos which tell
the stories of the research and equipment, as well as artifacts to view and
hands-on activities for younger children.
Kids can use a microscope to get a closer look at some of the shells and
other underwater specimens or sit at the lego table and create their own
research vehicle. On the first floor,
there is a replica of the underwater research vessel “Alvin” that children can
Only a hundred years ago, there were
very few groups dedicated to exploring and preserving the creatures living in
the oceans. The director of Woods Hole’s
Marine Biological Laboratory, Frank R. Lillie, and the President of the
Rockefeller Foundation’s General Education Board, Wickliffe Rose, spoke several
times during the early 1920s of the need for a specialized center for
oceanographic research on the East Coast (and while there was a program on the
West Coast, it needed to more support).
Lillie became the first President
of the Board of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Henry Bryant Bigelow of Harvard University
was appointed as WHOI’s first Director.
The Rockefeller Foundation provided funds for construction, equipment,
and several years of expenses. For this
type of research, one of the most important things that they needed to get
going was a large boat. The Atlantis, a 142-foot, steel-hulled ketch
with a massive sail was built in 1930 and arrived in Woods Hole a year
During World War II, the
oceanographers at Wood Hole found themselves being frequently consulted on
matters of national defense. They were
commissioned to figure out what composition of paint would prevent marine
fouling, or the accumulation of different sea creatures such as mussels and
barnacles on the surface of the boat.
Their work resulted in the Navy saving a lot of money on fuel when their
ship bottom remained clear of attached organisms. Other projects followed which help to solve a
multitude of naval problems, including an inquiry of underwater
While there is no admission fee
to visit the museum, there is a request for donations at the front desk. The
Center’s hours vary throughout the year:
January through mid-April: Closed
Mid-April through the end of
May: It is open Mondays through Fridays
from 10AM to 4:30PM.
Starting Memorial Day weekend
through the end of June, it is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10:00 AM to
In July and August, the museum is
open daily from 10:00AM to 4:30 PM.
In September and October, the
museum closes on Sundays. It is open on
Mondays through Saturdays from 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM.
Finally, in November and
December, the museum is only open on Tuesdays through Sundays, from `10:00 AM
to 4:30 PM.