Wonderlands of Adventure at Florida Museums

09/03/2009  |  LILLIAN SPENCER

For many, the Sunshine State is all about the many wonders of the outdoors, with great weather and gorgeous beaches. Visit Florida museums and you will find wonderlands of adventure and knowledge.

(Listing are arranged by region)

Northeast Florida


The Museum of Science and History (MOSH) specializes in interactive science exhibits and Northeast Florida history. Galleries offer permanent exhibits including “Currents of Time,” “Atlantic Tails” and the “Universe of Science.” It also houses Northeast Florida’s only planetarium with daily shows.

The new Dino-Roar exhibit at MOSH features a number of animatronic dinosaurs. The Body-Within exhibit lets visitors explore the human body. Enter the exhibit through a mouth and you are able to see the skeletal system above, and organs and body systems below. This realistic, and humorous look at the human body, helps visitors gain knowledge about how different organs function within the body.

Contact MOSH at 904-396-6674, or visit www.themosh.org.

v The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is the largest fine art museum in Northeast Florida. Noted for Old Master and American paintings, beautiful formal gardens and a renowned collection of Meissen porcelain. The Cummer also offers distance learning opportunities for teachers. These free continuing education programs are designed to provide educators with meaningful ways to infuse art in the curriculum. Whether you are an art teacher, a high school subject area teacher, an elementary classroom teacher, or an ESE teacher, there is an in-service opportunity for you.

Classes offered include:

  • Art Basics: Clay Pots- July 11, 2009,
  • An introductory class. Visit www.cummer.org for more information.
  • Art Basics: Watercolor
    August 8, 2009
    An introductory class. Visit www.cummer.org for more information.

Contact the Cummer Museum, 904-356-6857, or visit www.cummer.org.

North Central Florida


v Activities with the kids have never been as entertaining as they are at the Challenger Learning Center in Tallahassee. The Challenger Learning Center’s Downtown Digital Dome and Planetarium features educational and entertaining programming for all ages. Board a cardboard rocket with the little ones and embark on an animated adventure touring all the planets in our solar system, or delve into the mysteries of nature’s conundrum, the Black Hole.

Across the lobby, the five-story IMAX screen takes audiences on the ride of a lifetime. Feel as though you are a part of the action in one of your favorite full-length Hollywood films, or visit places you have only imagined, watching educational films like Extreme Planets and The Enchanted Reef. With continuously new and rotating shows in both the Planetarium and the IMAX theater, there’s always something new to experience at the Challenger Learning Center.

Contact Challenger Learning Center, 850-645-7827, or visit

v Learning is easy at the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science. The EcoLab puts the ocean’s depths at your finger tips with a coral reef touch tank, and in the Exploration Station, families learn about physics as they build their own simple machine. In the interactive Weather Wonders exhibit, families learn what makes the weather and see themselves on camera as they make their very own on-screen weather forecast.

Fun for kids — and not too shabby for adults either — the Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science dazzles each Saturday with their Super Science Saturday programs. Super Science Saturdays fascinate and educate museum patrons of all ages. The StarLab portable planetarium shows leave stars in their eyes on the first Saturday of the month, while Chemistry Magic fascinates with cool chemical compounds and exciting explosions on the second Saturday. Smart Art on the third Saturday invites children and their parents to participate in special workshops and craft activities.

Contact Mary Brogan Museum of Art &
Science, 850-513-0700, or visit

The Mission San Luis combines history, culture and fun as visitors discover a recreated community where time stands still. They encounter the people of San Luis going about the tasks that sustained life and walk the plaza where the Apalachees played their traditional ball games. They visit the council house and stop at the home of the Spanish Deputy Governor. They are welcomed at the church built under the supervision of Franciscans, and at the friary where they lived.  And they explore the recreated fortification, El Castillo de San Luis, originally built in the 1690s.

The first Saturday of every month, the Mission invites children to learn about Florida’s colonial residents while creating a unique craft item, exploring the nature trail, or interacting with costumed actors. From Apalachee dance wands and face painting to Spanish fans, the Mission’s Colonial Crafts event makes learning engaging and fun.

Contact Mission San Luis, 850-413-9702, or visit

v The Tallahassee Museum’s 52-acres has a native animal zoo, 1800s farmstead exhibit complete with farm animals, playground and a Discovery Center.

The Discovery Center sparks the imagination with changing exhibits, stimulating programs, computer activities, hands-on experiences and a multitude of interactive resources. Kids may enter the magical world of microscopes. In the Wet Lab Exploratorium, children become environmental scientists and discover a number of aquarium, vivarium and terrarium inhabitants. For those more anthropologically inclined, a stereoscope allows children to examine 19th century people and places. Hands-on and interactive, the Tallahassee Museum’s Discovery Center makes learning fun.

Contact Tallahassee Museum, 850-575-8684, or visit

Southeast Florida Palm Beach

v The Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum includes permanent and temporary exhibit space.

The museum’s east wing houses permanent exhibits themed around “The People” who have been integral to the area’s development. Kiosks and exhibits with artifacts contribute to unfolding the stories behind significant and colorful characters of the past, including Pre-Columbian inhabitants, Seminole Indians, early pioneers, the business and philanthropic community, educators, and influential leaders in arts, law, medicine and politics. The opportunity to learn about the lives of these individuals is carried through to the “Meet the People” exhibit.

Some of the objects on display include a collection of Pre-Columbian artifacts, including a spear point, human effigy dating from sometime between 900-1200 AD and a gorget (a ceremonial breastplate); a painting of the Providencia, the legendary ship bound to Spain from The Caribbean that ran aground in Palm Beach in 1878 with a load of coconuts.

Daily docent tours are available to the public at 2 p.m. School tours and tours for groups of 10 or more are also available by contacting Paula Marcus, coordinator of volunteers and tours, 561.832.4164, x 110 or visit

West Palm Beach

v Disney: The Music Behind the Magic, 1928 to Today is the first comprehensive exhibit devoted to exploring and examining the role music has played in The Walt Disney Company’s phenomenal successes will be on view at the Norton Museum of Art June 6 through Sept. 6, 2009.

The Music behind the Magic: Disney, 1928 – Today explores the integral role that music has played in every facet of Disney’s success, from animation and film to TV, radio and Broadway, as well as the record label’s key songs, composers and performers, and their impact on popular music and culture.

Disney: The Music Behind the Magic explores Disney’s musical legacy and draws inspiration from Disney animation, television programming, theme parks, live-action films and Broadway musicals in addition to the label’s artist roster past and present, which includes music sensations ranging from Annette Funicello to Raven-Symone and The Cheetah Girls. The exhibition includes more than 65 rare artifacts from the Disney archives and boasts four interpretive films, including excerpts of key Disney films and interviews with artists and experts such as Richard Sherman, Alan Menken, Phil Collins and Leonard Maltin. In the spirit of past EMP exhibitions, visitors will also enjoy interactive displays where, they can mix their own classic Disney tracks and even participate in a musical interactive challenge.

In addition, this exhibition will be supplemented with thoughtful and engaging educational programming anticipated to reach hundreds of thousands students, educators and families.

For ticket and additional information visit www.norton.org or call 561.832.5196. 

South Florida 

Florida Keys

v Go into the Abyss at the Florida Keys History of Diving Museum with an assortment of spectacular and unique diving armor and authentic apparatus to take man, the air-breathing land-dweller, down underwater into the deep sea — and to bring him safely back again.

Fun stops are scattered throughout the Museum for kids to engage in interactive play and to experience hands-on some of these Wonderful Diving Machines!

The Parade of Nations Gallery defines the international scope of the Museum, featuring the world’s most precious diving helmets from the world’s largest collection of historic diving apparatus.

Rare diving helmets made by John Date of Canada are on display. From the USA, you can espy the Mark V Navy Helium Gas diving helmets; helmets by Miller-Dunn (including Divinhood helmets used by Art McKee for treasure salvage, from Treasure Galleons with Silver Bars, Gold Doubloons and Coins and Pieces-of-Eight); 5-Bolt helmets, and those made by Alfred Hale.

The Museum will provide programs and tours for school groups. These programs both teach and entertain. The staff will develop programs to fit your specific educational curricular objectives and needs in most subject areas.

For more call 305-664-9737 or visit www.DivingMuseum.org.

For more information about the wonders of travel in the state of Florida, visit www.visitflorida.com.
Comments & Ratings