The Portland Science Center has closed after nearly three years of bringing traveling exhibits about pirates, sharks and the human body to the city’s waterfront.

The Massachusetts-based owner of the center, The Gold Group, has closed the business and will opt out of its lease, said Stephen Goodrich, owner of the building at 68 Commercial St. where the center was housed.

Goodrich said Tuesday he was told that the science center’s attendance had declined recently, compared to its early exhibitions.

“I had a conversation with Joe Gold (the owner) a couple weeks ago and he was happy with the facility and the support we’ve given him, but he wasn’t getting quite the same response in terms of visitors,” Goodrich said.

Goodrich said his lease with the science center included an opt-out clause, in case the business wasn’t successful, and he will honor that clause.

Goodrich said he wasn’t sure yet what business or businesses might occupy the two floors the science center had been in, but that one might be a payment processing company.

Gold said Wednesday that he closed the science center mainly because not enough tickets were sold. He said attendance wasn’t consistently high enough to meet expenses, including the cost of brining in the exhibits. Ticket prices were generally under $20 for each exhibit, Gold said, lower than ticket prices for Gold Group exhibits in other cities. Tickets for the center’s last show, about sharks, were $18.50 for adults and $14.50 for children, Gold said.

“It’s sad for me to close it, but we just didn’t sell enough tickets,” Gold said. “Our landlord has been fantastic, but the costs of running a center like this are high.”

In other cities around the country, the Gold Group brings in exhibits to existing museums and science centers but does not usually lease a permanent exhibit space, Gold said.

On Tuesday, several workers at the science center were packing crates and boxes with displays from the “Planet Shark, Predator or Prey” exhibit into trucks. They said the exhibit, which opened in February, would be moved to an out-of-state location. The exhibit closed Sunday.

The Portland Science Center opened in September 2015 with the show “Body Worlds,” featuring preserved human bodies. The center, a for-profit business, had hosted about two exhibits a year, including a popular one on the wreck of the Titanic.

The Gold Group, which is based in Salem, Massachusetts, promotes and produces educational exhibits around the country. Exhibits promoted by the group in other cities include “Dead Sea Scrolls,” “Sea Monsters Revealed” and “Pompeii.”

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey contributed to this report.

Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

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