All of this adds up to a well-rounded docket of activity for the 55,000 children who visit the museum on field trips each year and the 120,000-plus visitors who walk through the SFSM’s doors annually. But this is just the beginning, as Crampton explains. “With the expansion, we will be on par with anything around South Florida,” says Crampton. “Palm Beach County deserves a great science museum and we aim to bring that here.”
The expansion, which will stem from a capital campaign that is set to start this fall, will give the SFSM the opportunity to give even more to the public. Tentative goals are to double the aquarium (already the largest fresh and salt water aquarium in the county) to 2,000 square feet, making room for a touch tank so visitors can pet sharks and rays. An additional 5,200 square feet will be added to the traveling exhibition hall, allowing for major exhibits like “Bodies,” “Savage Ancient Seas,” and the “Titanic” to stop in Palm Beach County. A two-part Everglades exhibition will give visitors an opportunity to explore the wilds of South Florida with interactive kiosks. The first phase will show maps with current EPA data concerned with pollution hotspots, and maps of what the future of the Everglades will resemble if current trends of pollution and encroachment continue unchecked, as well as what the River of Grass will look like if current and proposed protection legislation is enacted, showing two very different sides of the coin.
The second phase of the exhibition will focus on the flora and fauna of the Everglades with detailed descriptions of the environment, culminating with the region's top predator, the American alligator, with live gators in tanks for visitors to observe. The coup de grace of the expansion will revolve around a personal favorite of Crampton’s, a dinosaur exhibit resembling the one he spearheaded and designed while he was president of the Burpee Museum of Natural History in Rockford, Illinois. The exhibit will have a replica skeleton of a juvenile tyrannosaurus rex, interactive games allowing visitors to see what life in the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods was like, and an animation where visitors can ride an asteroid as it careens toward the Yucatan, the cause (as some believe) of the mass extinction of dinosaurs. “Visitors can participate in killing off all the dinosaurs,” Crampton jokes.
The non-profit organization, with the proposed expansion, will have even more tools in bridging the world of science with programs geared for children as young as 2 years old to seniors in high school, all while making it seem cool.
The popular Nights at the Museum program will continue the last Friday of every month, with night sky viewings in the observatory (weather permitting). The “Robotics” exhibition coming in September will let visitors get up close to robots with interactive exhibits. The Under the Stars Wine and Food Festival will take place September 24.
Celebrate the South Florida Science Museum’s 50th anniversary, October 22 with half-off admission.
4801 Dreher Trail N.
West Palm Beach, FL 33405