On a hot day in March, a
construction crew of approximately 150 was working on the expansive Frost Museum
of Science site along Biscayne Boulevard in downtown Miami.
“The main focus is getting it
done right,” marketing manager Joseph Quinones said of the oft-delayed project.
The 250,000-square-foot center,
to be formally called the Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science, has been
wrought with funding difficulties since construction began in 2012. Once
completed, however, it will be a major addition to downtown Miami’s burgeoning
cultural tourism scene.
The Frost Museum will sit on
the edge of Biscayne Bay, adjacent to the popular Perez Art Museum Miami, which
opened in 2013. In addition, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts,
a facility featuring a concert hall and a separate ballet/opera house that opened
in 2006, sits just down Biscayne Boulevard from the Frost.
“I think what is exciting
about where we are is that people can make a day out of downtown Miami,”
Though he’s paid to make such
proclamations, Quinones’ point has plenty of merit.
The $305 million project is
more than just your everyday science museum. Rather, the Frost is slated to
fill four interconnected buildings, which together will house an aquarium; a
planetarium; the five-story Exploration Center, offering immersive exhibits;
and the Innovation Center, where workshops will be led, emerging technology
will be showcased and pairs of inventors-in-residence will rotate in and out
Indeed, the Frost’s is
considered so significant to Miami’s cultural and economic landscape that on
April 5 it won a $49 million bailout from the Miami-Dade County Commission. Though
commissioners expressed their exasperation with the delays and with the
center’s fundraising shortfalls, they passed the bailout 12-1.
can’t just sit back and watch it fail,” county mayor Carlos Gimenez said before
the vote, according to the Miami Herald. “We owe this museum to the future
generations of Miamians.”
Museums officials say the county
bailout will enable them to secure the additional private financing needed to
finish the center this year.
When it does open, the marquee
Frost Museum attraction for many is likely to be the Living Core Aquarium. It
will actually feature more than 30 tanks that highlight ecosystems, including
coral reefs, the Everglades and Florida’s sandy shores. Its showcase will be a
500,000-gallon martini glass-shaped tank populated by hammerhead sharks that
will be viewable from three levels, including from a rooftop expanse complete
with an aviary and views of Biscayne Bay.
The planetarium will house
250 seats below a digital dome lit up by a laser projection system.
A permanent exhibit that is
likely to be popular will be “Feathers to the Stars,” a history of flight that
will take visitors from the age of dinosaurs and prehistoric birds to 21st
century aircraft and spacecraft.
Meanwhile, the indoor/outdoor River of Grass exhibit will include an
immersive area in which visitors will gain a sense of what the Everglades feels
like both during the day and at night.