Amber Leeb, the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre’s exhibit planner, is a bit of a time traveller. She says, “My world is never in the moment. My world is months or even years from now.” While Aquarium visitors enjoy current exhibits, she’s already thinking about the details of the next one.

Take Holidays at the Vancouver Aquarium, for example. It’s a project that started in May – when Christmas was nary a thought on our minds. While we were enjoying the first warm days of the season, Amber was already thinking about winter and “how to activate various Aquarium spaces that are on-theme and on-brand,” – all the while giving visitors a unique aquatic experience.

Amber is especially excited to see how visitors react to the Marine Debris Christmas Tree, which was made by items found on beaches by Tofino artist Pete Clarkson. See the tree come to life in the time lapse video at the end of this post.

(Left) the rendering of the Marine Debris Christmas Tree; (Right) the real deal.

(Left) the rendering of the Marine Debris Christmas Tree; (Right) the real deal.

Amber, originally from Calgary, moved to Vancouver to study interior design. But while working at the Richmond O Zone Celebration Site during the 2010 Winter Olympics, she realized her interest was more in exhibits and installations – the big stuff. Since then, she’s travelled throughout North America and Europe leading large scale build-outs on behalf of a large conference organization.

“On opening day, an operatic song booming over the speakers would signal the start of the conference.” Amber recalls. “The moment that song played, you knew you had done everything you could to get ready for launch. It was time to stand back and watch everyone else enjoy it.”

Even though you’ll hear ambient sounds coming through our gallery speakers, Amber says she still hears the crescendo of the opera in her head every time she launches an Aquarium exhibit, giving her that tingly feeling that transcends time. Visitors can enjoy the Vancouver Aquarium holiday installation on now until January 4, 2015.


Written by Karen Horak, writer-editor, content and digital experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.

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One Response

  1. Pete Clarkson

    Kudo’s to Amber and the entire Aquarium team for the festive and entertaining holiday exhibits. Thanks to Stephen for the great photos of the Debris Tree and to all the Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup volunteers who collected the debris we used to create the tree. You folks are all Opera Stars!!


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