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$500,000 Grant from Sentara Healthcare to Support Nauticus’ Transformational Redesign

Funding will help establish a new STEM Discovery Lab

Norfolk, Va. (April 18, 2023) – A new STEM Discovery Lab at Nauticus will serve area students and families thanks to a $500,000 grant from Sentara Healthcare.  The education-focused lab will be used for daily programming, educational demonstrations, visitor engagement opportunities, and school field trips for thousands of students each year.  Sentara Healthcare representatives presented Nauticus’ President & CEO, Stephen Kirkland, with a $500,000 check on Tuesday, April 18th.

The new STEM Discovery Lab is part of a total transformation of all Nauticus’ exhibit spaces and visitor experience areas.  The $21.5 million project includes the development of five large-scale, interactive exhibit galleries that span the entire third floor of the maritime discovery center.  Additionally, a newly designed “Wonder Hall” will greet students and visitors as they enter the facility.  The comprehensive project will parallel newly created “STEM to Stern” programming and chart a course for the next generation of families, learners, and professionals. 

“Education is the real heartbeat of our organization,” said Nauticus’ President & CEO, Stephen E. Kirkland.  “As we continue to engage and inspire students and families, we’re so grateful to Sentara Healthcare for helping provide a new home for impactful STEM learning.”

“Sentara is committed to the communities we serve and continues to search for opportunities to invest in education and training for our future leaders,” said Aubrey Layne, Executive Vice President of Governance and External Affairs for Sentara Healthcare. “We are grateful to support Nauticus in the development of educational and staffing resources for the STEM Discovery Lab, as well as the initiation of community-based programs to expand access and enhance the experience for visitors.”

Sentara Healthcare’s STEM Discovery Lab will open in 2024 along with three new gallery spaces – all part of the second phase of Nauticus’ transformation.  Work on the first phase of the project began in November 2022 and the first new interactive galleries (Norfolk In Time and Aquaticus) will open this summer.

For more information on Nauticus’ redesign project, including detailed descriptions of each gallery space, or for more information on how to donate to the Reimagine Nauticus Campaign, please visit

About Nauticus

Nauticus is a maritime discovery center located along the waterfront in downtown, Norfolk, VA, offering a unique form of experiential learning for all ages. Through interactive exhibits and STEM to STERN programming, Nauticus uses the museum, Battleship Wisconsin, sailing center, and Schooner Virginia to tell the story of the maritime environment, industry, and the military. Nauticus Foundation is the nonprofit, 501©3 that supports the mission and activities of Nauticus. Nauticus’ mission is to benefit the community through education, impactful experiences, and sharing access to maritime resources

For more information, visit

Photo Attached: L – R; John DeGruttola (Sentara), Rehn West (Nauticus), Stephen Kirkland (Nauticus), Aubrey Layne (Sentara), Andy Stephenson (Sentara), Amanda Simpson (Sentara).