Like a gigantic magnet, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science in downtown Miami attracted 28,208 people its opening week. In just seven days, Frost Science welcomed about 10 percent of the total number of visitors that its nearby sister museum, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), received in its first year.
Many people, particularly children, were awestruck by the new space, with its state-of-the-art planetarium and 500,000-gallon aquarium, among other attractions. But others complained that the new science complex still needed to cut the cost of admission — especially if it aims to educate people across socioeconomic lines in Miami-Dade County.
Admission for visitors over the age of 12 costs $28. For children aged 3 to 11, tickets cost $20. As some New Times readers commented last week, those prices might make it difficult to enjoy the space — or prevent some people from visiting altogether.
"I was so looking forward to finally having a science museum that a cosmopolitan city like ours deserves, only to find out it’s for the wealthy and the tourists," Zsa Zsa Pereda commented after reading New Times' coverage of the museum. "It costs $28 per person to enter! I’m lucky I’ll be able to take my kids the one time they’ll want to go. I feel the majority of families in the area will be unable to regularly use this venue as a way to expose their young children to science. I’m referring to people with multiple children who sometimes don't have enough for dinner or shoes."
So what exactly does the cost of admission pay for, and is it fair to locals? Nobody wants a multimillion-dollar science institution to be out of reach for residents wishing to go.
A spokesperson for the museum tells New Times the price was something the museum's staff carefully considered.
"The Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science did an extensive review of comparable science museum and aquarium facilities around the country, in addition to other Miami-Dade County cultural attractions, in order to determine the admissions pricing." Children ages 2 and under get in free, the spokesperson added, and Frost tickets include access to the exhibits, aquarium, and one show at the planetarium.
For comparison, general admission to the Frost's next-door neighbor, PAMM, costs $16 for adults and $12 for youth. Across the MacArthur Causeway, the Miami Children's Museum charges $20 for general admission to every visitor over the age of 1; Florida residents pay $15. A daily pass to Miami Seaquarium costs $44.99 for ages 10 and up and $34.99 for ages 3 to 9.
So at this critical time in our nation's history when science is often disregarded, does this mean tickets to the Frost might remain out of reach for low-income Miamians? Not necessarily. There are several ways for Miami residents to get through the doors for cheap — or even for free.
First, the Frost offers a 15 percent discount to Miami-Dade residents, dropping prices to $23.80 and $17 for adults and children, respectively. It's not a huge price cut, but hey, money is money.
The museum also participates in county-led programs that offer free access. The Library System Museum Pass allows Miami-Dade library cardholders, including families of up to four, the chance to peruse the Frost for free by checking out a pass at their local library. Passes are valid for seven days after checkout. At presstime, dozens of passes to the Frost were waiting in libraries across the county.
General admission to the Frost is also free if you're a Miami-Dade educator, first responder, active duty military, retired military, or a veteran with a valid ID. To seniors 62 years and older, Golden Ticket offers free Frost Science passes as well.
In the meantime, Frost Science is raising funds to support its Community Access Initiative, which offers free admission to children via field trips from Title 1 schools and summer camp scholarships.
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On top of these free ways to stroll through Frost Science, there are ways to score discounted admission. Culture Shock Miami (CSM) offers two-for-$5 tickets (or $2.50 each ticket) to the new museum. The first ticket must be used by someone within the age range of 13 and 22, and the second ticket may be used by someone of any age. To pick up passes, CSM ticket buyers must present proof of age with a student or state-issued ID.
Frost Science also offers discounted tickets to those who show a valid Miami-Dade County Transit Easy card or ticket from Metrobus, Metrorail, or Metromover.
So maybe giving your family a front-row view of Miami's newest cultural institution won't cost you an arm and a leg. You just have to know how to work the system.
New Times' Best of Miami party will take place at the new Frost Science Museum Thursday, June 22, from 8 to 11 p.m. Visit newtimesbestofmiami.com.