Need to take a break from the mundane and immerse yourself in a world of science and discovery? The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature in Bradenton has reopened several of its exhibits to the public after making changes during the pandemic—and now kids and adults of all ages can enjoy them in-person and online.
The museum says it welcomed around 200 guests per day during spring break in Manatee County this year, and plans to continue to do so in the days and weeks ahead. There will also be summer camps available for kids of all ages, and adult tours continuing throughout the spring. Here's a round-up of what's coming up.
Renovation of the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation Habitat
On February 18, 2021, manatees Felicia and Viva were released from the Bishop's care into a natural habitat at the TECO power plant site. Since their departure, the museum staff has begun renovating the manatee habitat to include a more naturalistic environment. The two pools and shelves where manatees lived and rested will feature artificial trees and several water depths where incoming manatees can rest. The reopening will take place later this spring.
New Planetarium Show Called Sea of Stars: Sail Through the Milky Way
This new planetarium show is about 10 to 12 minutes and takes guests from earth through our solar system and into the Milky Way and beyond. Guests are limited in number for safety and can complete a survey online about the experience afterward.
Reopening of the Natural History Museum and Kids' Interactive Exhibits
"When we first reopened in June of last year, the only things that were still available for guests were the Natural History Museum and the Parker Manatee Rehabilitation exhibit," says Bishop Museum director of communications Remi Gonzalez. "In July, we reopened the planetarium with 30 seats per show, then reopened the Mosaic Backyard Universe in early fall." The Mosaic Backyard Universe is an interactive exhibit for kids, but to ensure the safety of guests, some aspects, like fossil digging, are closed due to Covid-19.
Kids' Virtual Field Trips, In-Person Programs and Summer Science Camps
Since public schools are not allowing field trips yet, the Bishop is offering a virtual field trip to the museum for students to watch from their classrooms or homes. Kids' programs include Science Sprouts, an in-person play exploration program for kids ages 3-6 every other Sunday morning, and IQuest, a drop-off program for smart and curious middle-schoolers one Saturday afternoon per month. Kids will learn how to conduct chemistry experiments and find solutions to out-of-the-box problems, like how to land something on Mars.
Summer science camps will include a seven-week program with different camp topics each week. Covid-19 safety protocols will be in place, including temperature screenings, symptom checks and mask requirements. For more information, click here.
Think+Drink/Science Events and Adult Tours
Think+Drink/Science events are held monthly at the Bishop, and have continued virtually for guests to enjoy. Each month brings a new topic to the table through a Zoom webinar, where you can have open discussion with a scientist. The next event will take place Wednesday, April 14, from 7 to 9 p.m., and attendees will discuss the Sarasota Manatee Ecoflora Project, which helps protect native species. The host will be Sean Patton, an iNaturalist at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Events cost $5 for non-members and $3 for members.
In-person adult tours can be arranged for a limited number of guests if reserved in advance. In them, you'll be led through the museum by one of the education coordinators.
The Badlands to Bradenton: Lessons from The Field Exhibit Is Still Open
Badlands to Bradenton is a special temporary exhibition at the museum that follows the adventures of Manatee County school teachers on paleontology expeditions to the Nebraska Badlands. Check the museum's website for other special temporary exhibits that you can experience either online or in-person, where Covid-19 protocols have been put in place to ensure guests' safety, including installation of plexiglass dividers at common areas, mask-wearing, social distancing cues and reminders, and limited capacity.
The Bishop Museum of Science and Nature is open Wednesday-Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday from 12 to 5 p.m. It is located at 201 10th St. W., Bradenton. Purchase tickets here, or call (941) 746-4131.