Bradenton's South Florida Museum, now The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature, didn't just get a new name earlier this year. The popular museum is also in the middle of a huge expansion with the construction of a new museum wing known as the North Education Center, which will include the immersive Mosaic Backyard Universe for children, that is set to open next year.
The museum raised more than $15 million from both the public and private sectors for the new wing, which will serve as a space for public programs and science camps. The Backyard Universe is set to be an extensive outdoor learning center with interactive features such as telescopes and a reptile pond.
But you don't need to wait until the new features open to visit The Bishop. The museum houses precious fossils, human artifacts and even a planetarium, and until Sunday, July 14, the museum is exhibiting more than 50 photos from the National Geographic Photo Ark by photographer Joel Sartore. The goal of Sartore's decades-long project is to inspire compassion for diverse animal species, many of which are at risk of disappearing forever. His stunning animal photos were taken as portraits on white and black backgrounds, and allow the viewer to focus on the unique beauty of each animal, no matter the size.
The Bishop Museum is also hosting Florida Feathers: Birds in Peril, featuring shots by Florida-based photographer Grant Jeffries. The exhibit, which will be open until Sunday, Aug. 25, is intended to deepen one's emotional connection to the diverse native bird species that brighten Florida’s landscape and skies.
For adults and kids who want to engage their intellectual faculties, the museum hosts several recurring learning programs on different topics. These include Kidspace, which takes place at 10:30 a.m. on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month, and teaches kids about space in the Bishop Planetarium. Think + Drink, meanwhile, gives adults space from 7 to 9 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month to have a drink and discuss presentations on cutting-edge science. (To learn more about these and other programs, go here.)
Finally, make sure to go to the museum’s Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Center to visit its two new manatees, Slate and Obsidian, who joined the museum’s third rehabilitating manatee, ONeil, in April. You can catch the sweet trio playing, eating and cuddling together for the next year or so until the manatees are released into the wild.
The Bishop Museum is located at 201 10th St. W, Bradenton. The hours of operation are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets range from $10 to $19.