The Frost Museum of Science in Miami: Worth the Visit?
Updated: Feb 23
Miami is a common destination for New Yorker's who head down to South Florida for some fun frolicking on the beach, the many great restaurants and nightlife, and a variety of mostly beach-focused leisurely activities. Few, however, will say they made their way to the Magic City to enjoy their museums. Mostly, because until very recently, there really weren't many options. On my most recent and very short trip to Miami, I decided to check out two museums, the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) and the Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, and soak up some culture along with some rays.
These two recent additions to the Miami landscape--the Frost Museum in 2017 and the PAMM in 2013--sit next to each other in Miami's Maurice A. Ferre Park, formerly known as Museum Park and prior to that as Bicentennials Park. Bordered on the south by the American Airlines Arena and Bayside Marketplace, and on the north by the two museums, the Park features an expansive green area ideal for soaking up some sun or a picnic sans sand.
Surprisingly, the area was devoid of sun soakers and picnickers! In New York, this area would have undoubtedly been filled with people doing just that. I imagined Miamians preferred the sand and made my way to the science museum, the subject of today's post.
The first thing that caught my eye about the museum is the building. It's a stunning piece of architecture that brings the outdoors in and makes it a part of the 250,000-square-foot site which is more of a complex than a building. The complex is made up four buildings: the Aquarium, the Frost Planetarium, and the North and West Wings.
According to the museum’s website, this unique campus-like setting takes guests on a journey from the ocean to the Everglades and from the human cell to outer space. I wish I'd known that prior to going, because I personally didn't experience the museum as a cohesive journey. The exhibits felt a bit disjointed save for the aquarium which had a presence on three of the museum's levels. I did, however, experience the exhibits individually, which I did enjoy separately.
I was with my mother the day I visited the museum so we started with what she wanted to see first--the Feathers to the Stars exhibit, which is on Level 3.
The exhibit takes visitors on a journey through the story of flight, from dinosaurs to space travel, and features what is described on the site as a 30-foot dinosaur, although I don't quite remember it that large. I may have been distracted, however, by the many kids running around.
In the various stations, some of which are interactive, you can explore how various animals evolved to fly including dinosaurs. We also get to explore human and space flight with an overview of the inventors willing to risk their money, sanity and reputation at the time to hopefully achieve their dream of flight. The space exploration section is also meant to be interactive where you can "build and launch" your own rockets and do some virtual exploration. The interactive exhibits were simple, but served to break up the drill of just walking around.
We also visited the Aquarium which is actually built into the building and is quite nice. The experience begins with a 100-foot wide, 500,000-gallon aquarium where various sea creatures roam. On the same level you can peer into various water tanks which hold mangroves and coral reefs, and the typical area where you can touch a stingray. Perfect for the kids.
There are two other sections which I truly enjoyed in The Aquarium including The Deep and The Dive. The Dive includes 30 aquariums where you can learn about and observe subtropical sea life and ecosystems. The Deep features a 32-foot oculus at the bottom of the aquarium where you can spot sharks along with the other sea life you had a chance to view at the top of the three-level Aquarium.
The final noteworthy part of museum is the Planetarium which features a 16-million color, 8K projection, surround sound, and the typical dome screen. As I write this, I cannot remember what the presentation was about but the website lists three: Journey to the Stars, Phantom of the Universe: The Hunt for Dark Matter, and Dynamic Earth. We scoped out the various showtimes and selected one that allowed it to be the last exhibit we attended.
I enjoyed my visit to the Frost Science Museum, although I have to say that I walked away feeling it was geared more toward children than adults with school-level content. I enjoyed experiencing the building's perfectly-suited architecture more than the museum itself. Miami is a city populated with young families and tourists visiting from around the world so offering kid-focused content makes sense to me. While I don't think it warrants a second visit any time soon, it was a nice couple of hours spent with my mother and catching the gorgeous city and port views from the museum's open walkways and levels.
Worth the Visit? Yes, but with tempered expectations regarding content sophistication and with the goal of becoming familiar with Miami’s latest cultural addition and taking in the stunning architecture. The building was recently awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification.
Keep an Eye Out For: Take note of the weather for the day. It rained on the day we visited and we got soaked. The wind was blowing the rain across the entire level and as you exited one exhibit hall to get to the stairs or elevator we inevitably got wet and had to maneuver our way around several puddles.
Bonus Experience: Make your way to the restaurant located in the neighboring Perez Art Museum Miami, Verde, for a bayfront drink or meal or bring your own lunch for a bayfront picnic before or after your museum visit.