I still remember when I joined the new museum team about two years ago. Back then, the old and beloved museum, the one in Coconut Grove, was still open, and in full swing (i.e., the corridors were always filled with a cheerful symphony of kid voices). Before joining, I had already seen the beautiful renderings of the new museum, and could not wait for it to become the outstanding science museum Miami deserves.
I look back on going to the construction site for the first time. While the groundbreaking ceremony had taken place about two years earlier, on February 24, 2012; about two years ago, the magnitude of the four main structures of the campus-like building could only be imagined. The Living Core was only hinting at the vastness of the aquarium it hosts, the Frost Planetarium was yet to become the iconic spherical structure it is today, and both the Exploration Center and the Innovation Labs were half of the buildings they are now, ahead of our grand opening in the fall of 2016.
Like many of my colleagues, I have always been happy to lead guests around the construction site, something that has become easier and easier as the project has evolved. And, not only because we have steadily become more familiar with the space, but mostly because the space itself has been thankfully catching up with our awe-inspiring vision for the museum. Visit after visit, we found ourselves discovering something new and exciting, something that brought Frost Science closer to its anticipated completion. There are some remarkable engineering achievements accomplished this past year only, including topping off all four buildings, completing the spherical structure of the Frost Planetarium, and pouring the concrete on the 500,000-gallon cocktail glass-shaped aquarium. And, did I mention we will be able to look up into the aquarium through a 30-foot piece of acrylic lens being made in Italy? The Oculus, as we call it, is set to to be installed early next year.
In a way, I like to think the museum is somehow alive. It is, through the collective effort of those involved in its development. An effort that bounds the perfect blend of the old and the new. In this scenario, we become a committed multifaceted parental figure trying to instil in the new museum the values of our old cherished institution, while also letting it grow with the flow, as it finds its new place as an inclusive and innovative science museum and a landmark of today’s Miami in Museum Park. A process that will ultimately be driven by the many people that will interact with the wonders of the new Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. We really are almost there.