AGE OF EXPLORATION
As the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science opens its doors, Miami turns a corner as an educational and cultural hub.
With its grand reopening on May 8, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science brings a world of wonder to downtown Miami. The institution’s new 250,000-square-foot, $305 million indoor/ outdoor facility combines a science museum with an aquarium and a planetarium, and it boasts an impressive roster of exhibitions, events—and of course the laser light shows that leave visitors of all ages in awe. Ocean Drive talked to Frank Steslow, the museum’s president, about the facility and what its opening means for the city.
Frost Science called the Vizcaya complex home for 55 years. How did this move to a bigger, better facility come about? Going back probably 20 years, the museum was looking for the opportunity to grow, and with the general obligation bond and the Building Better Communities program providing a fair amount of funding for the science museum, the art museum, and other cultural projects, that became the impetus for what we have now. A lot of hard work went into securing the bond and getting the voters’ support. I think our question passed by about 80 percent affirmative to support $165 million going to the science museum. Art museums are trendy but new science museums are rare, right? They are. I think in the last 10 years, there were two major science museums in the US that opened and/or did major renovations to the tune that we’re doing, so it’s big news that it happened. If you look at the aquarium portion on a stand-alone basis, it’s as large as some of the freestanding public aquariums in the country. What can people expect from the north and west wings? We have a lot of gallery spaces in those two buildings, starting with a permanent exhibition in the north wing called “Feathers to the Stars,” which presents science in a different way. Typically you might have the big ideas of science—evolution, the creation of the cosmos, etc.—addressed in different parts of the museum. We’ve chosen to meld those together into one exhibition experience that uses flight as the story
line. So we talk about evolution in the context of feathers and how dinosaurs developed feathers, which led to flight, the evolution of birds, and birds being an inspiration for aeronautics and space travel. It really runs the gamut using that thread. Then there’s the
Melaß, which focuses on medicine, wellness, sports physics, and even things like food chemistry. That exhibit is very programmatic, so there are a lot of live demonstrations. Is Frost Science for all ages? That’s one of the reasons for incorporating the aquarium: It draws a much wider age range of people. That becomes a really great entry point into science. That being said, we have a special exhibition space for early childhood called “River of Grass,” a hands-on Everglades experience and part of an ongoing research program into how the younger audience learns, and we’re going to have programs for young adults.
The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is located at 1101 Biscayne Boulevard and open from 9 AM to 6 PM, 365 days a year. For more information, call 305-434-9600 or visit frostscience.org.
“IN THE LAST 10 YEARS, [ONLY] TWO MAJOR SCIENCE MUSEUMS IN THE US DID RENOVATIONS TO THE TUNE THAT WE’RE DOING.” —FRANK STESLOW
From the aquarium’s mezzanine, a gigantic porthole provides hair-raising views of sharks and other exotic sea life in the 500,000-gallon tank. ƥƞɵƭ: Designed by Grimshaw Architects, the stunning Frost Museum of Science is a treat for both the eyes and the brain. With its state-ofthe-art projection system, the Frost Planetarium offers immersive joyrides not only through outer space, but along a coral reef and into a microscopic strand of DNA.