Wooden panels cover the floors, sheets of dust blanket the area, scattered nails have collected in the corners, and the eeriness of the dimly lit passageways is amplified by the cold of cement walls. Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore — we’re inside the heavy shell of the future Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science.
For months, the Frost Museum of Science has been under construction at the once-vacant space next to Pérez Art Museum Miami. Last December, the museum completed its concrete pour for its most talked-about accessory: the martini-glass-shaped Gulf Stream Aquarium for sharks.
And now, just a little more than a year from its tentative launch date, the museum has surpassed its 50 percent completion mark and is well on its way to opening day.
New Times was invited on a hard-hat tour of the grounds to get a taste of what’s to come in summer 2016.
Going along with a modern, always-evolving theme, the "New Museum," as it’s referred to, will not feature any of the current exhibits on display at the Miami Science Museum by Vizcaya. Everything will be new, and plans are to steer clear of any stagnant exhibits and allow room for more traveling shows or easy updates to existing ones.
The complex will comprise four buildings, each connected by a walkway or courtyard. There’s the famous round Planetarium, the main Innovation Center, the Exploration Center, and the Living Core, which will house those martini-glass hammerhead sharks.
At the top of the Innovation Center, about five stories up, the view is nothing short of amazing. There’s the scenic vista of the water and the causeway, as well as the museum’s neighbors PAMM, American Airlines Arena, and the iconic Freedom Tower. Plans are to have plenty of greenery atop the Innovation Center and even provide space for museum members to do morning exercises.
One of the largest exhibition rooms will be the Feathers to the Stars gallery, which will feature everything from the dinosaur era to modern space flight. Curators are in talks with the Smithsonian to try to rent some space shuttles to have on display for a few months as part of this exhibit. That’s right: space shuttles!
But perhaps the coolest aspect of the new museum — aside from the sharks and potential space shuttles — is the Living Core. Described as a “vessel-shaped structure integrating wildlife, habitats, and aquaria,” the Core works its way through each floor so guests can visually experience each separate stage, ultimately connecting five ecosystems that showcase “the indigenous flora and fauna of South Florida.”
The concrete foundation stands sturdy, and the smooth, round shape of the planetarium is nearly perfect. The current science museum will close its doors in late August, and at that point the museum will undergo a "dark period," if you will, until the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science opens its doors and makes everyone's jaw drop.
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science will be located in downtown Miami next to Perez Art Museum Miami. The final fundraising event for the museum, Big Bang 2015, will take place April 18. To purchase tickets or donate, visit bigbang2015.eventbrite.com.
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