The Ak-Sar-Ben Aquarium at Schramm Park State Recreation Area is closed for renovations. Construction is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2018.
The remainder of the state recreation area, including trails, canyon ponds, picnic areas, playground and fossil exhibit, will remain open. A temporary office will be established at the park, within the current visitor center parking lot, to accommodate guests who wish to obtain park information or purchase permits.
The renovation will transform the facility into a state-of-art interactive exploration center. The finished facility will include larger aquariums, a redesigned lobby area, a multi-faceted interactive nature center that will include various hands on activities, and a modern classroom to facilitate expanded educational programs and meetings.
The Aksarben Aquarium Outdoor Education Center, conveniently located on the banks of the Platte River between the cities of Lincoln and Omaha, boasts the largest exhibit of native aquatic species in Nebraska. The facility offers a unique aquarium and terrarium, an interactive classroom and the World-Herald Auditorium. Additionally, visitors can access the ponds, nature trails and historic fish hatchery at Schramm Park, located directly east of the facility.
The circular walk through the aquarium leads visitors past 12 large exhibits that show off everything from prehistoric paddlefish to behemoth blue catfish and a monstrous snapping turtle. The exhibits depict a cross-section of species found in Nebraska’s ponds, lakes and streams. Expect to see native species like rock bass, introduced species like rainbow trout and even invasive species like Asian carp. A variety of small fish, reptiles and amphibians are also found in the terrarium and classroom exhibits.
The interactive classroom features an impressive collection of Nebraska bird species, as well as pelts, skulls and scat of Nebraska furbearer species. Visitors are invited to explore found objects on the touch table, study aquatic and terrestrial insects under magnification, curl up in a chair with a book from the nature library, crawl inside a tent and work on a puzzle or put on a show with a menagerie of wildlife puppets.
The World-Herald Auditorium offers viewings of nature and wildlife films and hosts seasonal workshops that cover topics ranging from Nebraska camping destinations to sausage making. Additionally, the facility hosts monthly meetings of the Schramm Park Photo Club and the Cornhusker Fly Fishers. The Fontenelle Nature Association also bands birds seasonally and invites the public to attend. Contact the aquarium or visit the outdoor calendar for details on scheduled events.
Tourism guides offer live animal presentations to school groups and are also available on weekends and throughout the summer to assist visitors. Contact the aquarium to schedule a group tour.
Birds, butterflies, turkey and deer are abundant on the property and can be viewed while relaxing on the patio. To encourage bird watching at the feeders, binoculars and benches are provided at the center’s expansive picture windows. There are no concessions or indoor eating facilities at the center, so plan for a picnic lunch at Schramm Park, or in season, visit the Walter Scott, Jr. Lodge at Platte River State Park.
Hours and location
The Aquarium is open year-round, including some holidays. Admission is free.
Winter/Spring (Dec. 1 – Friday before Memorial day)
10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Wednesday through Monday.
Closed Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Day, Presidents Day
Summer (Memorial Day Weekend – Labor Day)
10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. weekdays
10 a.m. – 5 p.m. weekends
Fall (Wednesday after Labor Day – Nov. 30)
10 am. – 4:30 p.m. Wednesday through Monday
Closed Thanksgiving Day