Jacksonville, FL - Seeking to not only enhance the visitor experience, but to become an integral part of developing Downtown Jacksonville, the Museum of Science & History on the Southbank is looking to grow.
For several years, MOSH President Maria Hane says they’ve been challenging themselves to think about how to better serve the city of Jacksonville as both a museum and as part of the greater Downtown footprint. Through a series of studies, they determined their existing location was the best place for them to do that, so then the work started on how to design that campus.
“If we’re going to have a thriving Downtown, we’ve got to have multiple destinations. So really, looking at this as a Downtown development project, as well as a museum for the future, has been a real driving force,” Hane says.
GALLERY: MOSH 2.0 renderings
Of chief importance, according to Hane, is connecting with the River. The new design turns MOSH to face the St. Johns River and connects to the riverfront park while also embracing Friendship Fountain.
“When we really think about what’s going to be special about MOSH, what makes it a signature for Jacksonville and for the region, and if we really think about our real DNA- it’s the River. Really, that is a key identity marker,” she says.
They’re also planning to bring the River in to prominence in the museum, through an interactive display that will showcase various aspects of what makes it significant to the city, including trade, transportation, culture, science, and more.
Another new feature under the expansion will be event space to serve up to 400 people. Hane says this is something they wanted to add because of stakeholder feedback, which spoke about the benefit of conference and event space that overlooks the park, River, and Downtown.
They are additionally planning to add a cafe on the park and innovation labs, while also increasing exhibition space.
Hane expects it will be another two or three years before they break ground, but when they do they will start first on a new 40,000 square foot new building. Once that’s done, they’ll move existing operations in to that new facility, so they can then gut and renovate the current building. The expanded footprint will be a little larger than their existing lease, according to Hane, but she believes the City has been and will continue to be a good partner. MOSH owns their building and is currently in a long term lease with the City, who owns the land.
They will need that partnership, as the total projected cost for this overhaul is $80 million. Hane says they are planning a $20 million campaign for community support, which they can then build on.
“It’s critical that we look at every opportunity and how we can really leverage the donor dollars that are pledged for the project,” she says.
She says they will seek city, state, and federal support in funding this project.
The current plan is to have these renovations and expansion complete in 2023. MOSH believes this will allow than to more than double the number of people they serve annually.