NOAA announces $15 million to support construction of a visitor center in Provincetown for Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

August 1, 2023

Contact: Vernon Smith,, 240-638-6447

artist rendering of exterior of new visitor center

NOAA will invest $15 million from the Inflation Reduction Act in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to build a state-of-the-art visitor center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

The visitor center will feature interactive exhibits on the natural history and cultural heritage of the region. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary intends to partner with the Town of Provincetown and the Center for Coastal Studies to advance awareness, understanding and appreciation of the marine ecosystems of Stellwagen Bank.

"NOAA's national marine sanctuaries facilities are a gateway to our greatest underwater treasures — and key to maintaining them," said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. "This investment will enable construction of a new visitor's center in Provincetown, furthering NOAA's work to advance understanding and conservation of our marine ecosystems and demonstrating President Biden's commitment to investing in America."

"As home to some of the ocean's most striking biodiversity, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is a true Massachusetts treasure," said Senator Edward J. Markey. "I am proud that funding we secured from the Inflation Reduction Act will be used to help Massachusetts communities experience this special destination."

"This project recognizes the sanctuary's significance to the Nation and its importance to both the local community and visitors from around the world," said Pete DeCola, sanctuary superintendent. "Together with our community partners, we will create an educational resource for all ages, and a hub that offers inspiration for generations to come on the wonders of the ocean."

NOAA intends to locate the new visitor center on MacMillan Wharf, a central hub for whale watching, commercial and recreational fishing, boating, scientific research and the many other activities that occur in the sanctuary. In addition to developing interactive exhibits, NOAA plans to establish educational programs at the visitor center to promote environmental literacy and marine conservation among residents, students and visitors.

The building would incorporate cutting edge sustainable and climate resilient design elements in the construction, including the use of flood resistant materials, elevation of the building well above minimum requirements, solar panels on the roof and electrical charging stations for cars parked underneath the building.

"This funding is a testament to the Town of Provincetown's commitment to preserving and showcasing the extraordinary natural resources within Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary," said Provincetown Town Manager Alex B. Morse. "I'm excited for the day when the visitor center becomes a reality and can serve not only as a gateway to the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, to enhance the experience for visitors, but also as an educational and tourism hub for the area."

"The Center for Coastal Studies has been an active partner with Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary from its inception in 1992, and we have long envisioned a visitor center here in Provincetown where we could share with the public with our ocean and coastal research and exciting educational activities," said Richard Delaney, executive director of the Center for Coastal Studies. "We are thrilled that the visitor center is one big step closer to becoming a reality and another important part of our mission to help all citizens become better ocean stewards."

Designated in 1992, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 842-square-miles of open water, east of Boston between Cape Ann and Cape Cod. The sanctuary hosts one of the most biologically diverse ecosystems in the Gulf of Maine. Renowned for its remarkable productivity, the sanctuary is a critical feeding and nursery ground for several marine mammals and has become one of the world's premier whale watching destinations.

The sanctuary is part of America's National Marine Sanctuary system, a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 620,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters. The network includes a system of 15 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.

These investments are part of a $3.3 billion total investment from the Inflation Reduction Act that is enabling NOAA to build on its commitment to help Americans — including tribes and vulnerable populations — prepare, adapt and build resilience to weather and climate events; improve supercomputing capacity and research on weather, oceans and climate; strengthen NOAA's hurricane hunter aircraft and fleet; and replace aging NOAA facilities. Stay updated about NOAA's Inflation Reduction Act investments.