- City Guides
Oregon Aquarium Gets Steampunked
A new exhibit is set on a fictional 19th century submarine populated with steampunk inventions
Sunday, July 14, 2019
Steampunk is meeting the ocean depths — or at least a reasonable facsimile — at Seapunk: Powered by Imagination, a new exhibit at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport. It opened on May 25 with an event that included a performance by Cascadian Airship, a steampunk band from Portland. It’s scheduled to run through December 2020.
Seapunk is set aboard the fictional HMS Argonaut, a submarine captained by scientist and inventor Phineas K. Brinker. In the exhibit’s backstory, he’s the sole survivor after the Argonaut crashes in 1895. He’s built a set of contraptions — The Helmetoid, Water Rejuvenator, Oxygen Extractor, and more — that enable him to survive underwater. He also constructs an octopus butler named Reginald to keep him company.
In the exhibit, some of his contraptions function as tanks for sea creatures such as clownfish, lionfish, porcupinefish, and a green moray eel named Banner.
The exhibit also includes a theater where visitors can view The Deep, a short animated film in which metal objects are transformed into sea creatures. Shown above, it was commissioned by Showtime and produced by PES. In the exhibit, the film plays on a continuous loop.
Seapunk was conceived, designed and fabricated by Animal Exhibits and Designs, a company in New Jersey that specializes in exhibits and graphics for zoos, aquariums, and museums. The creators hope to take the attraction to other locations after its run in Oregon.
The exhibit is in the aquarium’s main building along with the Sandy Shores, Rocky Shores, and Coastal Waters sections. A separate building houses “Passages of the Deep,” where visitors can walk through transparent tubes surrounded by deep-water creatures such as sharks and rays. Other attractions include a large seabird aviary and outdoor areas with sea otters, harbor seals, and sea lions.
The aquarium is located at 2820 SE Ferry Slip Rd, Newport, OR 97365. The town, about 120 miles southwest of Portland, is also home to the Hatfield Marine Science Center and two historic lighthouses, the Yaquina Bay Light and Yaquina Head Light.
You can see highlights from the exhibit in the gallery below. Thanks to Cascadian Airship and the aquarium for allowing use of their photos.