History and Mission
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Open Every Mind to Science
Founded and incorporated in 1959 by the Junior League of the Palm Beaches, the South Florida Science Museum (SFSM) opened in 1961 as a learning environment specific to natural science and natural history. In 1964, a new wing housing the planetarium opened, originally dedicated by and named after astronaut Buzz Aldrin.
In 1971, a third phase of the facility was unveiled, more than doubling the floor space of the Museum to its current size, and adding exhibit space, classrooms, an auditorium and organizational support areas. The institution eventually became known as the Science Museum and Planetarium of Palm Beach County and in the 1980s, was renamed the South Florida Science Museum, reflecting the organization’s increasingly broad subject matter, educational purpose and geographic appeal. In 2008, the planetarium and theater were completely renovated and renamed through the support of the Dekelboum Family Foundation. The rapid growth of the Science Museum is a testament to the significant role that it assumed and continues to fulfill, within the community, serving as an educational and cultural resource for visitors of all ages and backgrounds.
Now, The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium (SFSCA), formerly the South Florida Science Museum, operates as a “best-in-class,” community-based science center providing visitors with engaging and interactive science education experiences. Since originally opening our doors, we have hosted over six million visitors and we are on track to serve 325,000 this year with 130,000 public and private school children from Palm Beach, Martin, Broward, and Miami-Dade counties.
In April 2012, with a successful $6 million capital campaign, we broke ground on an exciting expansion project that led the way towards the transformation of the South Florida Science Museum into the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium. With a grand re-opening on June 6th, 2013, guests now enjoy a 6,000 square foot building addition that houses the 3,000 square foot “Aquariums of the Atlantic” gallery and a 3,000 square foot Florida-themed permanent exhibit hall complete with a “River of Grass” Everglades exhibit, an interactive NOAA Science on a Sphere exhibit, and a Student Science Showcase area for winning science projects from the Palm Beach County School District. We also completed re-construction of our 5,000 square foot Hall of Discovery, containing 30 new and rehabilitated hands-on exhibits, an upgraded planetarium, a 1,000 square foot early childhood education room with water play, photo booth, seating area and a light/bright wall; an upgraded theater and upgraded amenities.
In 2016, we completed the 18-hole miniature golf Conservation Course designed by local legends Gary Nicklaus and Jim Fazio. It was developed as a green space to provide recreational and environmental benefits to visitors while educating people about Florida’s native habitats and was named one of the "Top Thirteen Miniature Golf Courses in the nation" by Travel Magazine.
In October of 2018, we completed the second half of our backyard, the quarter-mile-long Fisher Family Science Trail which connects 15 new exhibits, including a Physics Forest, FPL SolarScape, interactive splash pad, gem panning station and dinosaur walk. In March of 2019 we completed the $2.5 million dollar permanent exhibit “Journey Through the Human Brain” in partnership with the FAU Brain Institute, which has since been dubbed the most advanced exhibit on the human brain in the world.
Just this spring of 2020, we added a $500,000 open-air amphitheater to our backyard Science Trail which features daily live science shows, trivia sessions and concerts. Guests bring picnic blankets and socially-distance themselves in the grass field while being educated and entertained.
We are well-positioned to take on a new set of initiatives. To prepare ourselves, we recently completed a year-long strategic planning initiative to create a contemporary programmatic vision for our Science Center that showcases the Greater Palm Beaches as a forward-looking region that is transforming its economy into one built on industry clusters of the future such as Life Sciences, Aviation and Aerospace, Agriculture, Health Care, Information Technology and Advanced Manufacturing. Please stay tuned to our website and social media channels for more updates, coming soon!
The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is located at 4801 Dreher Trail North, West Palm Beach and is open Monday – Friday from 9am-5pm, and on Saturday and Sunday from 10am-6pm. For more information, call 561-832-1988. Like the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium on Facebook and follow us on Twitter & Instagram @SFScienceCenter.