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At Miami's New Science Museum, You Will Literally Be Able to Jump the Shark(s)

Categories: Unreal Estate

Science_Museum_credit_Miller.jpg
Michael E. Miller
A view of the science museum's central 500,000-gallon aquarium, which will be filled with sharks and (maybe) topped with a zipline. View more photos of the science museum's construction.
From high above Biscayne Boulevard, Frank Steslow peers down into what looks like the world's largest punch bowl. Grown men crawl like insects inside the massive martini-glass-shaped structure. Rebar pokes out at odd angles. Construction cranes swirl. Concrete settles into place.

Steslow is showing off his baby: the brand-new, half-built Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science. As chief operating officer, Steslow knows more about this place than anyone. The punch bowl, for instance, is actually a 500,000-gallon aquarium that will be filled with sharks and other large marine animals, he explains. Naturally, the 10-year-old boy trapped inside this New Times reporter's body can't help but ask: Will visitors really be able to dangle themselves above the open shark pit?

"Gillian keeps talking about that," Steslow says with an uncomfortable smile, referring to the science museum's president, Gillian Thomas. "We are exploring whether or not there is an opportunity to have a zipline over the tank."

One thing is immediately clear here: This is not your childhood science museum.

See also: Photos of the construction at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science

Founded in 1950 as the Junior Museum of Miami, the museum was originally confined to a house on the corner of Biscayne Boulevard and 26th Street. A decade later, it moved to its current headquarters near Vizcaya. Thanks largely to Jack Horkheimer and his trippy Child of the Universe planetarium productions, the Miami Museum of Science became one of the city's most beloved institutions.

By the time Horkheimer retired in 2008, however, the Vizcaya location was falling apart. New Times uncovered asbestos in the building in 2010. And two years later, the museum broke ground on its new building in Bicentennial Park.

Like its neighbor Pérez Art Museum Miami, the science museum is seeking to reinvent itself radically. The new museum consists of four buildings connected by balconies and breezeways. The huge aquarium will be the central showpiece. It will be flanked by two high-tech gallery spaces. A giant, globular planetarium will greet passersby on Biscayne Boulevard.

"We have looked into anything where we have an opportunity to break the mold and do something different," Steslow says. "The shape of the tank alone has never been done before."


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24 comments
James Sharpe
James Sharpe

You mean a whole 12 in the entire world....ya guess you're right not one of the largest.....smh

Armando Castillo
Armando Castillo

500,000 gallons is not "up there" in terms of largest in the world....there are about 12 others that are much larger.

Crist Jarrett
Crist Jarrett

I can't wait... Nich, we have to bring the kids here when it opens!

gumsandals
gumsandals

Re the implication there are structural deficiencies, is there a prize for spotting the first crack under the aquarium? Maybe a token Museum of Science umbrella?

Sam Wright
Sam Wright

@Stephen Cohen, it's a museum, not an aquarium

Diana Elena Carioca
Diana Elena Carioca

My I will miss my childhood Science Museum in its original splendour terribly! :/

Stephen Cohen
Stephen Cohen

I will have to come and see it when it opens. Could well be worthwhile. Will it be up there with the Baltimore Aquarium, New England Aquarium, the one in Monterey Bay in CA, or the New Orleans one? Hard to say.

Alex Hernandez
Alex Hernandez

I think what we really want to know is if there will still be monthy laser light shows for the stoners and will the show improve on the late-70s/early-80s technology currently used?

Kelly Moreno
Kelly Moreno

Something to see on one of your future visits Shannon Moreno.

Lina Best Moss
Lina Best Moss

My kids spent many, many hours at summer camp at the museum of science. I look forward to seeing how amazing the new facility will be

Ben Kooby
Ben Kooby

Sara, check this out for next summer :)

Danielle Kris Marie
Danielle Kris Marie

What's happening to the Viscaya location? The birds of prey rehab people are awesome there.

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