At the MOSH

October 19, 2011

It took a delayed flight from Pittsburgh to Orlando to alert me to an exhibit at a Museum of Science & History right here in my home state.  While stuck at the Pittsburgh airport well into the night, I took up the airline’s magazine and read the happenings in each and every state in the union. Under Florida, an exhibit entitled “Savage Ancient Seas” snagged my attention enough for me to write it down in my planner. I then promptly forgot about it. Until this past weekend that is.

Jacksonville Museum of Science & History (MOSH)

Located in downtown Jacksonville, a stone’s throw away from the Stein Mart Corporate Building, the museum’s entrance enticed with an old piano set up out front for anyone to play (which Matt did). After paying the $10 entrance fee, and buying a ticket for a show in the museum’s planetarium for another $5, we headed in. Although we were specifically there to see the Savage Ancient Seas exhibit, we also wanted to see what else they had.

The Body Within exhibit at the MOSH

The first exhibit we ventured into was “The Body Within.” Here you guess at what you are touching or smelling (think tennis ball or root beer), manuever a prosthetic arm, examine actual body parts in jars, or watch a video of a knee replacement surgery or a colectomy.

We wandered around the remaining exhibits on the first floor, all in some way relating to Florida’s natural history, then headed upstairs. A top-notch local history exhibit occupied 1/3 of the second floor, along with the Ancient Savage Seas exhibit and the Planetarium.

 Savage Ancient Seas

This exhibit contains skeletons of creatures that swam the oceans during the time of the dinosaurs.

Savage Ancient Seas exhibit

My favorite skeleton was of the Xiphactinus audax.

Xiphactinus audax

The only disappointing part of the day was the show, Sea Monsters, in the Bryan-Gooding Planetarium.  Planetariums should leave these shows to IMAX theaters. This couldn’t even compete in the slightest. Definitely not worth the extra $5.

After the show, we wandered around the exhibit one last time. At the center was a sandbox of sorts. Earlier in the day, children would climb in, grab a brush and dust away, uncovering archaeological finds beneath. By the time we came out of the 4:00 show, it was near closing time and we were the only ones in the room.  I walked over to the sandbox and picked up a brush. As I dusted off the sand between bones, I imagined being an archeologist on a real dig (a brief interest of mine back in college) and daydreamed.  Museums can do that. They let you explore interests you have, ones you’ve forgotten you had, and ones you didn’t even know you had.


Art in Daytona?

August 31, 2010

Can there really be an art museum in Daytona Beach, home to NASCAR, motorcycles and sunbathing? 

I’ve passed the sign many times – Museum of Arts and Sciences.  I usually make a mental note to check it out someday.  Well, that someday finally came. And I was pleasantly surprised.

First off, the museum is located on a 90-acre nature preserve.  The Tuscawilla Preserve is a coastal hydric hammock.  Hydric hammocks are drier than swamps but often have standing water throughout.  Boardwalks weave through the area closest to the museum and provide informative placards along the way.  An attempt to hike the nature trails was thwarted however by the overgrown grass, bushes and hanging branches.

Once inside, the museum has several halls to explore.  One hall claims to have the “largest collection of Cuban art outside of Cuba.”  Another hall contains a “significant Chinese art collection.” There are also halls dedicated to African Art, Decorative Arts and Early American Art.

A fun exhibit is the Americana collection once belonging to Chapman Root, a Coca-Cola entrepreneur.  Included in this hall (Root Hall) you will find an amazing collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia from years past.  I bet just about everyone can find the Coca-Cola vending machine they used as a child, whether by way of a nickel or a quarter. The collection is quite phenomenal. Also included in this hall are three fancy old cars, two private rail cars, a huge doll exhibit, and an old drug store counter exhibit.

The museum also offers a planetarium.  With admission ($12), you get free admittance to the daily planetarium show.

The Museum, planetarium and surrounding nature are quite a surprise to find in Daytona.  I never would have expected it.