In 1989, Young At Art began as a small, 3,200-square-foot children’s museum dedicated to shaping young minds and enriching the community through the transformative power of art. Since then, the tiny workshop has grown into a 55,000-square-foot collection of activities celebrating the diverse influences of art on our lives and imaginations, garnering a rare accreditation by the American Association of Museums for its efforts. At ArtScapes—one of the four main exhibits—kids and their parents travel through The Cave, a frantic slideshow of images conveying 5,000 years of human history, step into a replica of a New York City subway car, and view examples of graffiti as a means of creative expression against the oppressive forces of aluminum spray cans.
Elsewhere, WonderScapes transports children up to 4 years old to a world inspired by the illustrations of DeLoss McGraw, whose version of Alice in Wonderland won the Society of Illustrators Book of the Year award in 2002, and GreenScapes demonstrates the immutable intersection of art and the environment as visitors build sculptures from natural materials. Never ones to ignore their creativity, teenagers can find refuge in the Teen Center, where a graphic design lab with Mac computers and a recording studio let them convert their pre-calc homework into digital form before it’s too late.
The Museum of Discovery and Science ensures that adults as well as children have opportunities to explore diverse fields in the natural and physical sciences. Museum visitors who prefer to experience action on the big screen can drop into the AutoNation IMAX 3D Theater, which boasts a 15,000 watt, 42-speaker digital surround sound system. Opened in 1992, the 300-seat theater dazzles audiences via a five-story-hight screen that features both 2D and 3D films. Crowds view the latter using lightweight XR 3D glasses for highly evolved thrills.
Listed in the National Register of Historic Places and located in the heart of the city, Stranahan House stands as one of the few remaining shadows of Fort Lauderdale’s pioneer heritage. The house was constructed in 1901 by the eponymous Frank Stranahan as a trading post for early settlers, native Seminole Indians, and the now-extinct verbose alligator. After the burgeoning town appropriated it for use as a post office, town hall, and more through the decades, historians painstakingly restored it to its 1913–1915 glory. On three daily tours lasting 45 to 60 minutes, expert guides lead local history buffs through its rooms, detailing the house's multitudinous uses, showing off its Victorian furniture, and offering a glimpse into the vernacular architecture of the bygone era.
Arthur Stone spent six decades assembling the collection of classic Packard autos that makes up the Fort Lauderdale Antique Car Museum. His love for the Packard's combination of engineering and elegance has resulted in the United States' largest Packard collection, containing one model from each year of the company's 58-year existence. The museum's 30,000-square-foot space mirrors the look of a 1920s Packard showroom, with heraldic-style gas-station signs hanging above gleaming specimens of auto history, all restored to full working order.
Models such as the 2201 Woodie wagon from 1948 demonstrate the manufacturer's innovation amid changing times, and the 1909 18 Speedster evokes an era when saddled cheetahs shared roads with cars. Original concept-design drawings line the walls, and an expansive library contains shelves laden with periodicals and fascinating reading materials.
A 90-year-old sanctuary of natural and man-made beauty, the Bonnet House Museum & Gardens provides visitors with a decadent visual buffet comprising numerous artistic media and floral features. Wander the art-filled, ghost-free rooms of the Caribbean-plantation-style house and study the rich collection of easel art, murals, and more. Paintings—including numerous works by the house's former residents, artists Frederic Clay Bartlett and Evelyn Fortune Bartlett—as well as sculpture, furniture, and tableware make the house a pirate-proof aesthetic treasure trove, while five separate ecosystems have shaped the surrounding property into a delicious stew of biodiversity. Stroll nature trails to enjoy the flora and naturally occurring discotheques of mangrove wetlands and a maritime forest, or stop by the orchid showroom to swaddle nature's most needy flower in a comforting blanket of compliments and adoring stares.
The Museum of Art Fort Lauderdale has come a long way since its original 1958 incarnation as the Junior League's Fort Lauderdale Art Center, housed in a former hardware store. A fire in 1967 prompted the center to relocate to a temporary home in a former annex to what is now Nova Southeastern University—an institution with which the museum would later forge an intellectual and cross-disciplinary association. The museum as patrons know it today was designed by American architect Edward Larrabee Barnes and opened to the public in 1986. Within its bright-white exterior—with color apparently overflowing from its top, dripping down across the sides—stands a permanent collection of more than 6,000 pieces, including a significant body of work by early-20th-century American painter William Glackens. Other art in residence includes Picasso ceramics, creations of the northern European COBRA movement, and works from more than 90 contemporary Cuban artists in exile around the world.
After exploring the varying aesthetics of temporary exhibitions, guests can grab a bite to eat and question what makes a sandwich “art” in the café area of the Books & Books store. Adults and kids dive deeper into art via gallery talks, storytelling, and hands-on activities, as well as art-academy classes taught by locally and nationally renowned artists.