In 1955, Orlando Science Center started its life as the Central Florida Museum, and looked much different from the institution it is today. Over the last 63 years, the Science Center has grown from a “museum on the move” that toured content to schools and other learning sites to the premier informal learning institution we are today.
Recognizing not only the need to revitalize our physical exhibits, our leadership also recognized the growing importance and place that the Science Center occupied in the educational landscape of Central Florida. In order to both address our needed physical updates and the need for high-quality informal education, OSC began the Unlock Science Campaign. To date, our comprehensive campaign has made many critical improvements at the Science Center a possibility:
- In 2015, OSC finished renovating the lobby and science store, while also reclaiming space for our new KidsTown exhibit by performing an in-fill on the second floor.
- In 2016, construction for new KidsTown completed in October, which helped increase attendance by 10% from the prior year with a 5-year attendance growth of 66%.
- In 2017, construction started on the STEM Discovery Center, which entailed renovating our 7 learning labs within the Education department. By the end of the year, 4 of the learning labs were being regularly used for programming, classes, and winter break camps.
- In 2018, we finished the learning lab renovations, while also debuting the new Flight Lab, made possible by a generous grant from the Office of Naval Research. The first half of 2018 also saw the completion of our new making and tinkering exhibit, The Hive: A Makerspace.
With the completion of so many exciting projects associated with the campaign, the end of FY18 brought us to another record-breaking year for attendance with over 670,000 visitors reached by OSC.
Additionally, based on these accomplishments the Science Center has been honored as an Institute of Museum and Library Services National Medal finalist for two consecutive years. This honor is only bestowed upon 15 museums each year, and represents the highest award for a museum or library in the nation.
With the successful completion of Phase I and II of the Unlock Science Campaign, and as we look to the future, we will continue to innovate content and reclaim space with the focus on Nature and Environment, Health and Wellness, and by updating the CineDome to provide an immersive Fulldome Digital experience.
In Phase III, the current phase of the campaign, OSC is keeping an eye on the future from an organizational standpoint and from a conservation perspective by fundraising for Life, Phase III, in new nature and environment exhibit hall. In this space we will continue to inspire science learning for life by:
- Connecting visitors to real-world environmental problems that impact their daily lives.
- Empowering learners of all ages to see how they can impact the world through conservation efforts both big and small.
- Facilitate stronger connections between our community and the natural world by offering hands-on environmental education opportunities to our visitors.