Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), has temporarily added to its exhibits with the very special Heart Gallery, a unique exhibit featuring 30 photos of children in state care who need an adoptive family. The gallery, located on the interior exhibitsâ€™ mezzanine, will be open to aquarium visitors and by appointment from September 15 to November 7.
â€œWe are thrilled to have the Heart Gallery here for the first time at the aquarium,â€ said Peter Glankoff, senior vice president of marketing and public affairs at Mystic Aquarium & Institute for Exploration, a division of Sea Research Foundation, Inc. â€œThe aquarium is always looking for ways to collaborate with and give back to the community, and the number of children in Connecticut in need of homes is certainly an important issue we want to help bring to the publicâ€™s attention.â€
DCF works with each child in preparing the Heart Gallery. If the child agrees to be photographed, he or she is paired with one of many volunteer professional photographers across Connecticut who donate their time and talent to capture each childâ€™s personality in a portrait.
The exhibit moves throughout the year to Connecticutâ€™s theaters, childrenâ€™s museums, galleries, local hospitals and other public exhibit spaces.
â€œThanks to this effort, approximately one-third of the kids featured have been placed into adoptive families,â€ said Paul Gressly, children services consultant with the Connecticut Department of Children and Families.
The Heart Gallery began in 2001, when Diane Granito, a social worker from New Mexicoâ€™s Department of Children, Families and Youth, launched a partnership with the local arts community. Their efforts received national attention and sparked the interest of two Connecticut photographers, who approached the Connecticut Department of Children and Families and secured the commitment of additional local photographers.
Due to the combined resources of public and private partnerships, including the Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoptive parents and Hearts, Hands and Homes Community Collaborative, Connecticutâ€™s Heart Gallery is now in its fifth year.
Families who want more information on the children featured in the Heart Gallery can call (860) 550-6467. For general information about adoption in Connecticut, please visit www.ct.gov/dcf or call 1-888-KID-HERO.
About Sea Research Foundation, Inc.
Mystic Aquarium, Institute for Exploration and Immersion Presents are divisions of Sea Research Foundation, Inc., a private, non-profit, charitable organization incorporated in the State of Connecticut. The mission of Sea Research is to inspire people to care for and protect our ocean planet through education, research and exploration.