From its humble beginnings in 1949, the Miami Science Museum has expanded into a sprawling facility that includes informative exhibits, the Planetarium, and the Wildlife Center. Many current exhibits teach kids about scientific principles using interactive elements. Visitors literally light up the dance floor at the Energy Tracker exhibit— boogying down helps power neon lights underneath the glass floor. At Moving Things, youngsters can learn about the physics of moving objects by dropping objects of different shapes into flowing water, or they can challenge their spatial reasoning skills by packing blocks into perfect cubes.
The four-story dome at the Planetarium has a daily schedule of stargazing shows. Some of these take audiences on informative expeditions through the solar system and various constellations they might not typically see, such as the elusive Medium Dipper.
The Wildlife Center, meanwhile, is dedicated to the rehabilitation and release of raptors; here, guests can encounter an owl, falcon, and eagle.
The Gold Coast Railroad Museum began in 1956, when train enthusiast William J. Godfrey chanced upon the miles of abandoned railroad track snaking through the pineland of University of Miami’s southern campus. He imported a newly retired steam engine to the premises, and a tribute to railroading history began.
Now in a new location in Miami proper, the museum continues to honor trains’ role in American history, with nine exhibits on locomotives, passenger cars, and the Richmond’s Naval Air Station’s fleet. Visitors can hop aboard a full-size diesel locomotive passenger coach, or take a ride a miniature children’s railroad that’s ideal for transporting shipments of Lincoln logs. Alternatively, they can run motorized or free-wheeling trains through a model railroad, which zips through mountain tunnels and circles around to-scale landscapes.
Thanks to a generous $35 million donation, the Miami Art Museum is now called the Perez Art Museum Miami, and has a shiny new home to match the label change. The Museum serves as the anchor to new 29-acre Museum Park, which overlooks glimmering Biscayne Bay. The updated digs were designed by Pritzker-Prize winning architects Herzog & de Meuron and are dedicated to international art of the 20th and 21st centuries, laid out across three stories. At more than triple the floor space of their previous home, the Perez is modern and contemporary, housing more than 1,300 works across a range of media. There is also Verde, a lovely waterfront restaurant and bar, where the menu is locally-inspired and created with seasonal ingredients.
HistoryMiami celebrates Miami's unique legacy with rotating exhibits tracing the area’s history from prehistoric times to the modern day. On the first Wednesday of every month, HistoryMiami throws down an open smorgasbord of live jams, fine wine, and tempting tidbits to flutter the wings of local social butterflies. July's Wine Down Wednesday celebrates the new Aviation in Miami exhibit with a special performance by the Oscar Fuentes Combo, whose poetic, Latin-fused rhythms evoke the history of Florida's skies, from Howard Gill's cardinal flight a century ago to today's majestic herds of domesticated clouds. Imbibe from the open wine and food bar while enjoying access to the museum galleries, outdoor courtyard, and spectral Crockett and Tubbs. Free parking is available at Cultural Parking Garage at 50 Northwest Second Avenue.
The Wolfsonian of Florida International University displays an eclectic, singular collection of more than 120,00 North American and European artifacts from 1885 to 1945, all of which demonstrate how design has been influenced by cultural factors. Experience the collection as often as you choose with the unlimited admissions granted by membership. Members also receive invitations to members-only previews, 10% off museum shop purchases, and a variety of other benefits.
Contrary to the belief that Jewish immigrants began populating Florida in the aftermath of World War II, the very first Jewish settlers in the state arrived a bit earlier—almost 200 years earlier, in fact. Spanish-controlled Florida banned all non-Catholic religions, but England's 1763 purchase of the land was followed shortly by the arrival of Alexander Solomons, Joseph de Palacios, and Samuel Israel—and a new heritage was born. Today, the Jewish Museum of Florida – FIU celebrates this rich legacy and its impact within the larger Jewish community with a core exhibit brimming with more than 500 artifacts that span over 250 years.
In "Mosaic: Jewish Life in Florida," visitors will find relics such as a pocket watch owned by the first known Jewish boy born in Florida, a Purim party dress made for the Jacksonville YMHA in 1918 out of Floridian seashells, and the ketubah from the marriage of Margaret Fishler and Joel Fleet in 1940. Family photographs, immigration papers, and travel documents record the rich tradition of immigration, and images from wars dating back to 1815 evince the ongoing role Jewish residents have played in American history. In the building's community section, guests learn about more than 250 mayors, legislators, judges, and activists, including David Levy Yulee, the first Jew elected to Congress and the man who ushered Florida into statehood. Elsewhere in the museum, temporary exhibits might spotlight contemporary Jewish artists, Jewish rituals, or profile a prominent family. The museum is housed within two refurbished synagogues connected by the glass-roofed Bessie's Bistro, which serves snacks in the cheerful spirit of its namesake, Miss America 1945, Bess Myerson.