The South Florida Museum’s plans to reinvent itself are rapidly reaching fruition.
The museum, at 201 10th St. W., Bradenton, announced Tuesday that it has raised $11.3 million toward its $12 million goal to create “the museum of the future” and has assembled a special team to make it happen.
The South Florida Museum is expected to break ground next June on some elements of the new campus, almost exactly a year from now, said spokeswoman Jessica Schubick.
“We’re excited to announce that we have finalized the team that will help us with this transformation,” Bill Blalock, a long time museum trustee, said in a news release.
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“We solicited proposals from architects around the country and found two with complementary strengths,” Blalock added. “We asked Doug Mund and the late Rick Fawley and Fawley Bryant Architects if they would consider working together. Fortunately for us, they liked the idea of working in partnership.” Willis Smith will be construction manager.
The museum plans on constructing a new young children’s wing, to be called “Mosaic Backyard Universe,” just north of the present museum, an area that is now a museum parking lot.
But the museum is mindful not to lose its parking so it might build over the parking area, creating a covered parking area, Schubick said.
“We are also keeping tabs on what the city of Bradenton is developing regarding a parking complex across the street from us,” Schubick added.
The team will develop “exciting new exhibitions, new programs built on innovative technological advances and new spaces that connect the museum more deeply to its community,” said Brynne Anne Besio, the museum’s chief executive officer. “The changes we are planning for now will enhance the services we already provide to the community and to the Gulf Coast region.”
Some of the changes in store for the museum, which opened in 1947, include a hands-on learning center focused on science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM, for ages 2 through 8. “We’ll have a new gathering space for community and public programming, upgrades to Snooty’s home and the manatee rehabilitation facility and renovation of existing exhibit spaces and administrative offices,” Besio added.
Museum officials call the dynamic programming the “Pathways concept.”
Jeff Rodgers, director of education at the museum, conceived the project more than five years ag,o and technology has reached the point where concept is now close to reality. The idea is to show how every object in the museum is connected in some way and has various stories about their history and the science behind them. Rodgers simply asked, “What if someone could select what they wanted to learn based on their own personal interests?”
He brought the concept to Tricycle Studios Software Developer, out of Ybor City, a year ago and the development of the software is nearly complete.
Eventually, every object in the museum will be programmed with a Bluetooth device where the public can begin any number of paths of education that begin with what they are most interested in by following the direction outlined on a tablet device.
Richard Dymond: 941-745-7072, @RichardDymond