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Miami Science Museum | Photo © Sergio Alejandro

Miami Science Museum

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Built: 1960 | Abandoned: 2015
Status: Abandoned
Photojournalist: Sergio Alejandro

The Kitschy Little Miami Science Museum

The kitschy little Miami Science Museum opened in 1960 and served as a staple school field trip destination for 55 years. Founded in 1949 by The Junior League of Miami, the museum first operated out of headquarters on North Bay Dr before moving to its Coconut Grove location on Vizcaya grounds. Beloved by children and adults alike, the science museum featured interactive exhibits such as a planetarium equipped with the most high-end analog project of the 60s, a giant globe retrieved from the Pan Am Seaplane base, and hands-on coral reefs.

Perhaps the most notable exhibits included a 14-foot stuffed Kodiak bear, a bicycle-riding skeleton, and a giant statue of a sloth. With a cycle of programs such as “Are We Alone?” exploring the possibility of life in space, and “A Journey to the Moon” simulating the takeoff from Cape Kennedy, the museum captivated the minds and hearts of young children all across Miami.

science museum
What the Miami Science Museum looked like in the 1960s.

Relocation & Closure

As traction grew, the Miami Science Museum underwent a $5 million renovation in 1991 in order to expand exhibition space and add new facilities. This was not enough to accommodate the growing museum, and plans for constructing a new facility in Downtown Miami came about in 2011. Set to reopen in late 2015 as the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, the $305 million project suffered construction delays due to financial setbacks.

A $25 million was raised from a broad cross-section of individuals and corporations in South Florida, and a generous $35 million was donated by Dr. Philip Frost and his wife Patricia. Dr. and Mrs. Frost have been generous supporters of education and the arts and are renowned collectors. According to InPark Magazine, “In 1986, they gave their 113-piece collection of American abstract art to the Smithsonian Institution. In 2004, they endowed The Patricia and Phillip Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, and in 2006, they were the lead donors for The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University.

A $275 million grant by Miami Dade County’s Building Better Communities Bond Program eventually brought the project to completion. Despite the delays, the Kitschy Little Miami Science Museum closed its Coconut Grove location in August 2015, passing ownership to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. The building remains abandoned. The new museum opened on May 8, 2018.

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References

The Miami Herald. (September 3, 2015). Miami science museum closes after 5 decades before move downtown

Curbed Miami. (September 1, 2015). Miami’s Kitschy Little Science Museum Closed Last Week

CBS Miami. (August 31, 2015). Museum Of Science Closes, Reopens 2016

InPark Magazine. (March 29, 2011). Miami Science Museum Announces $35 Million Commitment by Patricia and Phillip Frost, Securing Naming Rights to New Building at Museum Park

Maya Ponomarenko

Maya Ponomarenko is a journalism/film student from Miami, Florida. Passionate about urban exploration and its history, Maya has spent the last two years exploring and photographing abandoned places around Florida. You can find her work @r_.route66_ on Instagram.

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Alex
Alex
1 month ago

Love the article. Lived in Miami for ten years, had no idea about this abandoned museum.

Marianna
Marianna
1 month ago

really interesting article, I’d love to read more about abandoned places in miami!

Taxpayers Screwed
Taxpayers Screwed
1 month ago

With debt service Miami-Dade County taxpayers are paying over $1 Billion for the newly relocated Miami Science Museum. And old board members sold the naming rights for a few million in cash.

Bullet
Admin
29 days ago

A tale as old as time, Miami residents are always getting screwed over. What always comes to mind is Marlins Stadium.

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