Check out Venice Paparazzi’s 2021 interview with Tim Rudnick below!

This first article by the Venice Chamber,

Tim Rudnick, the visionary behind the Venice Oceanarium, has been named the second recipient of the prestigious Joëlle Award for Excellence in Education by the Venice Chamber of Commerce.

The award, named in honor of Joëlle Dumas, recognizes individuals who embody Dumas’ dedication to community, educational excellence, and student support. The WAVE Awards will occur on Thursday, May 9th, from 6-9:00 pm at Westside Vineyard.

R.I.P. JOËLLE DUMAS. YOUR LIGHT SHINES ON! Venice loves you and you will be dearly missed, Joelle. Your presence and contributions will live on in the hearts and minds that you have touched.

Rudnick’s journey into marine education began unexpectedly. “I needed to write a paper for a biology class,” he recalls. In search of a topic, Rudnick ventured into conceptualizing plans for transforming the old Pavilion of Venice Beach into a marine museum. His research led him to John Olguin, director emeritus of the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium, whose advice to initiate the museum on the beach ignited Rudnick’s passion. In 1995, Rudnick launched the Venice Oceanarium inspired by Olguin’s counsel.

The Venice Oceanarium, a museum without walls, provides educational programs and events focusing on Venice Beach’s marine life. Activities include beach readings, a yearly marathon reading of “Moby Dick,” grunion parties, tide pool talks, and nature walks. The Oceanarium’s Sunday pop-up museum on the Venice fishing pier showcases ocean specimens, sparking children’s creativity with activities like drawing fish.

“What I like most about my work (which I regard as play) is being at the ocean and talking to people about it,” Rudnick shares. He’s spearheading a project with The Bay Foundation to build natural dunes on Venice Beach, aiming to restore marine habitats and combat rising sea levels.

Rudnick advises those seeking community impact to “follow their heart positively” and engage with like-minded individuals. “Community work can be very life-affirming,” he adds, emphasizing the importance of enjoying the journey and staying true to oneself.

The Venice Oceanarium’s ultimate goal is to establish a permanent museum facility at the end of the Venice Pier. Despite ongoing challenges, Rudnick remains steadfast in his commitment to marine education and community engagement.

Get to know Venice Oceanarium’s Tim Rudnick!

How many years in Venice?

40 years in Venice…but I was a kid here.

Give us a brief bio of yourself:

Born in 1942 in Los Angeles. Degree from U.C. Riverside in Art History. Traveled Europe on a motor scooter from 1965 to1967. Bought a house and lived in Venice since 1968,… seen many changes. Married since 1970 to Robin Lithgow. Worked as a building contractor….Rebuilt our house extensively and live on Market St. Go to the beach every day. I’m founding Director of Venice Oceanarium. I am now retired and do drawing and photography.

Tell us about the work your organization does and the programs you run?

The Oceanarium is a museum without walls. We do not have a physical facility but do events at the beach and workshops in the community.  We host an annual reading of Moby Dick (on the beach) and a Grunion party here in Venice every year.

We conduct workshops about the ocean at Oakwood Recreation Center and at schools in Venice and around L.A. We conduct weekly exhibits of ocean animals and beach dynamics every Sunday at the Venice Fishing Pier. Presently we are on hiatus due to COVID 19.

Photo by Venice Paparazzi

How long in business, and how did you get started?

Where did the idea or inspiration come from?  The Oceanarium has been operating in Venice for 26 years. Got started by putting a table on the beach here and displaying ocean specimens. The inspiration came from seeing a large dead sting ray on the beach here and realizing that if we didn’t do something that the ocean fauna would be significantly degraded.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

Most proud of bringing an increased awareness of the ocean here and bringing people who lived here but had never been to the beach.

How are you surviving Covid-19 and the lockdowns? What moves or pivots have you made?

2020, which was the 25th anniversary of our annual Moby Dick reading on the beach – was a little different. Due to health and safety concerns, we didn’t get together on the beach as we’ve always done in the past. Instead, we collaborated on a virtual reading of the book. We’re all thrilled with how well it turned out.  You can check it out here: Moby Dick – The Venice Oceanarium’s 25th Anniversary Reading.

What support do you need? How can one help your organization?

Of course, we need increased financial support and also an enlarged corps of volunteers to help with our programs

A few personal questions!

Define success:

Success is feeling good about yourself!

What is the best advice you have received?

Work hard, always tell the truth, and always smell the roses.

Favorite affirmation, mantra, or quote:

All work should be done in a way that resembles prayer.

Favorite book?

Moby Dick and Huckleberry Finn

Anything else you want to share about yourself to the world? Fun facts or accomplishments.

I worked and lived as roommates with Yoko Ono in the mid 1960’s.  She is certainly one of the most important influences in my art work.

I was a Board member of the Friends of Ballona Wetlands for almost 20 years and I am very proud of our accomplishments in restoring Ballona Wetlands.

Venice Questions:

Describe Venice:

Venice is defined by the beach…except for that we are Silver Lake.

What do you do for fun in Venice during Covid times?

I go for morning drives each each day and listen to classical music

What is your craziest or fondest Venice experience?

Watching the sunrise and sunset.

Anything else you want to say?

Become a member of the Venice Oceanarium and accompany us as we strive to enrich our understanding and appreciation of the ocean, and to protect the marine life indigenous to Venice Beach.

Who should Venice Paparazzi spotlight next?

Steve Claire might be a good person to spot light or maybe Larry Bell or especially Maralyn Fox of Pacific Resident Theatre

How can one follow you and Venice Oceanarium?


Thank You to Our Partners