Butterfly & Bird Exhibit to Open in Riverhead Summer 2011


painted lady 1Construction crews are setting into place stone columns and arches that will frame the 28,000-square-foot addition to Atlantis Marine World Aquarium that will open as the brand-new Long Island Exhibition Center and Sea Star Grand Ballroom.

On Saturday, July 1, the Long Island Exhibition Center will open to the public. This highly anticipated addition is part of Atlantis Holdings three-phased $24-million-dollar plan for the reinvention of downtown Riverhead’s waterfront, and represents the transition between the second and third phase of the original expansion plans, the grand opening of the Sea Star Grand Ballroom and the adjacent Hyatt Place East End hotel (both scheduled for completion in summer 2011).

The Long Island Exhibition Center’s first exhibit – Butterflies! – will showcase thousands of butterflies and birds set in an enchanted garden – a beautiful and colorful display of blooming flowers and trees throughout the year. The exhibit will feature more than 30 species of North American and exotic, tropical free-flying butterflies, 20 different types of birds, and archerfish.

“No matter what age you are, no matter what language you speak, everybody loves butterflies,” says Executive Director, Bryan DeLuca. “And even though the exhibit will only be on display for a limited engagement, we encourage visitors to linger as long as they like while they can.”

The butterflies on display will come from all around the world and through butterfly distributors in other parts of the country, from Los Angeles, CA, to Kissimmee, FL. The more than 5,000-square-foot exhibit will not only be the largest butterfly habitat in New York State, but has also been designed with a storybook theme like no other in the country. Visitors will wander a loop trail that includes a giant tree house, a pond, and numerous gardens. The message of the exhibit will talk about the life cycle of the butterfly, why pollination is so important, and what we can do to attract butterflies to our own gardens.

The new exhibit is part of a structure that includes a 28,000-square-foot exhibition, banquet, and conference center, and is part of a 97,498-square-foot, $24 million expansion that takes visitors beneath the waves and beyond the ocean.

“So much has happened here in the last decade since we first opened our doors – and tanks – to our public,” says DeLuca. “Riverhead is steadily growing into a family-friendly destination where you can experience several attractions, as well as experience its natural beauty along the scenic Peconic River. We truly believe that the Long Island Exhibition Center is sure to be the next ‘Must-See Destination’ on Long Island.”

Construction on the space began in summer 2010 and all components are slated to open to the public in summer 2011.