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Palm Beach  Society News  Pages 1 
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Black Tie International:
South Florida Science Center & Aquarium

Matthew Lorentzen, South Florida Science Center and Aquarium board of trustees chairman with Lew Crampton, CEO of the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium Photo by:  Lucien Capehart Photography

 Matthew Lorentzen, South Florida Science Center and Aquarium board of trustees chairman with Lew Crampton, CEO of the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium Photo by:  Lucien Capehart Photography



Crowds of more than 1,500 line up before noon to catch a glimpse
of the newly expanded space


(West Palm Beach, FL)  Some things are simply worth the wait!  For the first time in nearly 50 years, the beloved South Florida Science Museum unveiled a tremendous construction payoff for all its patient fans and ardent supporters. With a ribbon cutting ceremony and “Free Community Day,” officials, partners, supporters and patrons gathered to applaud the newly renamed South Florida Science Center and Aquarium (SFSCA), and ooh and ahh their way through its just opened 13,000 square foot expansion.  It was estimated that more than 1,500 visitors were in attendance – before noon.  The ceremony marked the first time the institution had taken on a major renovation since 1969.


The new construction expands the former museum’s footprint by 75 percent to showcase a new mission and new exhibit halls  –  including a 4,000-square-foot aquarium, four new Everglades exhibits, NOAA’s Science on a Sphere, a 6,000-square-foot travelling exhibit hall built to showcase popular exhibitions like Titanic or MythBusters, an impressive new landscaped entry plaza, a new front entry complex, and upgraded visitor amenities.  The gathered officials collectively exhaled when the ribbon was cut, acknowledging that the exciting expansion was delivered on time and on budget.


In her address to the crowd, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio applauded the Museum’s great work in the community by stating, “Not only has the Science Museum made a huge impact on children up to this point, but the future is going to be huge.”  She continued by addressing the economic implications the Science Center will have on West Palm Beach by stating, “This Science Center is one of the premier institutions in this area and now it’s going to be a premier institution in the country, and it will be so attractive to new businesses.”


Matthew Lorentzen, South Florida Science Center and Aquarium board of trustees chairman, shared similar sentiments, “When governance and leadership work together toward a common goal, great things will happen.  The work done to create this new Science Center is a shining example of synergy, creativity and perseverance. The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium will be the anchor institution for informal science education in South Florida and it is what Palm Beach County deserves.  With solid operating budget surpluses, a successful capital campaign, a brand new facility and a high-profile traveling exhibit offering, we are well equipped to succeed in this new role.   We look forward to what the future has in store for us.”


When the South Florida Science Museum originally opened its doors in 1961, the region’s population was 260,000. Currently, the new Science Center’s 60-mile immediate service area population – including all of Palm Beach County, northern Broward County and Martin County – totals about 1.5 million residents.  Before the expansion and renovation, the Science Museum served 125,000 visitors each year.  According to data from the Association of Science and Technology Centers, the Museum was the second busiestscience center in the nation for its size. Award-winning education programs, all based on Florida Sunshine State standards, served more than 45,000 school visitors both on and off site.


“We anticipate our attendance will grow by 20 percent after the expansion, reaching 150,000 visitors per year,” said SFSCA CEO, Lew Crampton.  “We arrived at this place by serving as a community-based, community-relevant and community-centered organization, and we operated at all times as an essential part of our region.  When the doors open today,” he continued, “we will have a new name and a new brand.


“Our new mission is ‘To open every mind to science.’ We will operate as a best-in-class science center serving residents of South Florida with enriching science education experiences. We will excite students, teachers and families with an ever-changing array of exhibits and programs, partner with local school districts to ensure that teachers and students in South Florida are among the most scientifically literate in the United States, work with universities and research institutions to communicate and promote the scientific achievements occurring in the region and help prepare our local workforce for jobs in science, technology, engineering and math.”


The former South Florida Science Museum spent the past year and $5 million in capital campaign funds on increasing its exhibit space, tripling the size of its aquarium and adding new permanent exhibits including Science on a Sphere and a hurricane simulator. The new science center has grown from 20,000 to 30,000 square feet and visitors will see changes from the moment they park at the new South Florida Science Center and Aquarium – with new signage reflecting the new name and new mission, and a completely new façade and entrance.


The first blockbuster exhibit to make a splash in the newly expanded space is Savage Ancient Seas – which allows visitors to explore the water world of the late Cretaceous period. The exhibit hall is currently filled with huge, 70 million-year-old carnivorous marine reptiles, with double-hinged jaws and teeth; gigantic flesh-eating fish, big enough to swallow an adult human being whole; flying reptiles, with three-foot skulls and the biggest sea turtles to have ever lived. 


Founded in 1961, the new South Florida Science Center and Aquarium features fun and educational programming for all ages. In addition to new features, the Science Center has retained some of its most popular hands-on exhibits – a digital planetarium, observatory, in-house Subway restaurant and more. New pricing at the SFSCA, effective on Saturday, June 8, 2013, increased for non-members to $13.50 for adults, $12 for seniors 62 years+, and $10 for children 3-10 years. Visitors should please note, planetarium and miniature golf are not included in the general admission price, and an additional fee for access to premier exhibits may be incurred (typically during the months of November through April.)  Membership and special events like “Science Nights” (formerly Nights at the Museum) are offered at discounted rates.


For more information about the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium, visitors should please call 561-832-1988 or visit  or visit in person at 4801 Dreher Trail North; West Palm Beach, FL 33405.


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