Wowing audiences since 1949 with science exhibits and a planetarium, the Miami Science Museum relocated to a new $300 million facility with major support from Philip and Patricia Frost in 2017 to Museum Park in downtown Miami.
Open every day of the week; you can buy tickets online or at the museum. Local residents get a discount and you can get an annual membership, which might make the most economic sense for a family of four who plans to return more than once a year.
Exhibits and Activities
The museum's standout feature is the new three-level aquarium that has a 31-foot-wide clear oculus at the bottom that gives visitors a sea-bottom view of sharks and South Florida reef fish. In addition to the half-million-gallon fish tank that is teeming with sea life, museum-goers can learn through viewing the live colonies of jellyfish and living coral collections, free-flight bird aviaries, and experience interactive dance floors. Other exhibits include the story of flight, the ecology of the Everglades, and a laser show that teaches the physics of light.
Among the new facility's main attractions is a new 250-seat planetarium that takes visitors into outer space and beneath the ocean via 3-D projection and a surround-sound system that exists in only 12 other such facilities around the world.
Familiar pieces of the museum’s longstanding collection are in its new home, including a nearly 13-foot-long, 55-million-year-old fossilized fish, a xiphactinus, which has been restored by paleontologists.
The Museum Structure
Now called the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, or Frost Science, the 250,000-square-foot museum, designed by world-renowned British architect Nicholas Grimshaw, is four separate structures connected by open-air decks and suspended passageways. There is the great sphere that houses the planetarium; the elliptical “living core” section, as it is called, with the main aquarium and multi-level wildlife exhibitions; and two other blocks, the north and west wings, that contain additional exhibition spaces.
The power company has installed two unique solar "trees" at the Frost Science Museum. The unique solar-panel structures use sunshine to generate zero-emissions energy. In addition, the Solar Terrace of the museum will house 240 photovoltaic solar panels, which is enough to power 66 classrooms.
The Junior League of Miami opened the Junior Museum of Miami in 1949. It was located inside a house. The exhibits were made up of donated items, such as a hive of live honeybees and loaned materials, such as artifacts from the Seminole tribe of Native American. In 1952, the museum relocated to a larger space in the Miami Women's Club. At that time it was renamed the Museum of Science and Natural History.
In 1960, Miami-Dade County built a new 48,000-square-foot museum building on a 3-acre site in the Coconut Grove area of Miami adjacent to Vizcaya, the Renaissance-style palatial estate and gardens. In 1966, the Space Transit Planetarium was added with a Spitz Model B Space Transit Projector. The projector was the last of 12 of its type that was built, and the last one still in operation in 2015. The planetarium was the home of the popular, national astronomy show "Star Gazers" with Jack Horkheimer.
The museum and planetarium closed in 2015 in advance of the opening of the new museum. The dismantled Spitz projector is a permanent display piece in the new Frost Planetarium that opened in 2017.