When corporate sponsorship goes too far, a comparison of two aquariums

Two women standing by a boardwalk that has the Lowes Home Improvement logo carved into it.
“This vacation sponsored by Lowes” by Lindsey Turner via Flickr Creative Commons.


I’m a huge fan of aquariums, so it’s not surprising that, on a recent trip to Atlanta, I made a special visit to the Georgia Aquarium. I’d heard about it for years and those that had been to the Georgia Aquarium and my personal favorite, Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, IL, said that Georgia Aquarium was the better of the two. Unfortunately, I have to say I disagree.

Shedd Aquarium felt like an aquarium, Georgia Aquarium felt like a series of advertisements with some animals mixed in. Each exhibit at the Georgia Aquarium was sponsored by some major organization. That’s not necessarily new, but their logos were everywhere, including a commercial before the 4D movie experience. Coupled with a lack of information at the exhibits about serious issues affecting our bodies of water, the Georgia Aquarium felt more like an amusement park than a conservation organization.

As an example, check out the two websites below, for similar exhibits, at the two aquariums:

I’ve mentioned the dangers of taking corporate sponsorship too far in the past (Breast Cancer sponsorship, is it really a good thing?). Budgets are tight and corporate money goes a long way, but we’ve got to be very diligent to ensure that any type of sponsorship doesn’t harm our core mission.

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